Bite Sized Pieces

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Many moons ago when my kids were much littler, we used to go out to my mom’s and spend the weekend. It was great fun. My sister and her family would often come out at the same time – so it was a really fun family time. The adults pretty much took over the bedrooms and the kids sprawled on various pull-out beds and couches. And before we left, I ran several loads of wash, washing all of the sheets and towels we had used during our stay.

 

One time, though, we had to leave early and I didn’t do the wash before I left. When I talked to my mom a few days later and asked how she was doing she moaned and said “just awful. She had been in bed for two days.” I asked “what happened, what was wrong?” , and she said that she had been up the day we left almost all night washing and drying and folding all of the laundry we had left, all of the sheets and towels, etc. And she was pretty snippy and mad.

 

I of course asked her why she did that. Why didn’t she wash one or two loads a day for the next several days, rather than trying to do it all at once? She didn’t have a good answer. (Today we’d call it being anal, or as my more politically correct friends like to say, “being organized.”)

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The Whole Enchilada

This is the very same thing I run into all the time in business and working with my clients. They only look at the whole task, whatever it is, and get immediately overwhelmed by the size and magnitude of the project. If they would only just divide the work up into bite-sized pieces, and do a little piece at a time, it would be so much better. And the task would actually get accomplished rather than put off and put off, looming even huger and darker on the horizon.

It’s like social media. If you allocate 30 minutes 3 days a week, this is better than not doing it at all. And you feel at the end of the week like you have accomplished something; that you are making progress.

 

So, here are my suggestions for any large project, or for that matter for tackling something that you don’t want to do, that you keep putting off (yes, I have been bitten on occasion by the procrastination bug as well.)

 

1.  Look at the whole project and divide it into pieces. Start with two. Then divide each of those pieces into halves or thirds. You can do this one of two ways:

    A. By steps that need to be done

    B. By time chunks

 

2. Allocate definite beginning and end times on your calendar to work on the project. So, it might be ½ hour M, W, F – 9:30 to 10AM as an example – whether you use steps or time chunks, putting definite times on your calendar to work on the project.

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Let’s take an example. Let’s say it’s Monday and my project is to write 2 blog articles – and they need to be done by the following Monday.

 

With method “A” above – looking at the steps that need to be done, the project might look like:

1. Topic of article – write 2-3 sentences describing the topic and point of the article (5 minutes)

2. Main points: List a sentence about each main point I want to make: Goal is 3 main points (5 Minutes)

3. Write a paragraph around each main point in item 2 above (10 minutes for each of 3 paragraphs)

4. Write the introductory paragraph to the article – why I thought about writing it, why it is important, etc (10 minutes)

5. Write the conclusion (10 minutes)

6. Review what I wrote and edit; Go back and be sure there are the appropriate keywords and that the article flows well (20 minutes)

7. Come up with a catchy hook title (5 minutes)

8. Find/create an image to go with it (20 minutes)

9. And then I go back and look at each step and decide how much time it will take to do each one

10. Slot the times in my calendar;

a. Monday – ½ hr for steps 1,2, and 2 pieces of 3)

b. Wednesday – ½ hr for last piece of step 3, steps 4 and 5

c. Thursday – ½ hr for steps 6 and 7

d. Friday – ½ hr for step 8

 

With method “B” above, I simply estimate how long it will take me to do the entire project and slot the time in my calendar. I would probably have slotted 45 minutes Mon, Wed, and Fri as an estimate.

 

Take-Aways

Regardless of which method appeals the most to you, by mini-tasks (method A), or by time-slots (method B), the important thing to do is to slot the time in your calendar to work on the large project or onerous task you need to complete. By slotting definite time blocks in your calendar, with automatic reminders, you then will have set aside the time necessary to complete the task. Try it today, and then let me know how it worked for you.

 

Tags: Time Management

Filed Under: Business Coaching, Setting Priorities