Procrastination Help: How to Break a Big Job Down into Smaller Pieces
First start by taking out a large piece of paper for a rough list and just jot down a list of all the little parts of the big job that you can think of. For example, if cleaning your office is your large, daunting task, some things on your list might be anything from put out the trash to sort the files under “A”. If your list gets too long you can divide it into several different lists divided by categories.
Now you are ready to rewrite each list (not the final copy yet) in chronological order of when the separate tasks need to be done and in what order. Of course some things may need to be done before others can be tackled.
Now you can look at your big list and prioritize. Highlight or draw a star beside the most important tasks. These are the things you really need to do and the things that you really want to do. You may want to use different colours or symbols for different degrees of priority. However, be careful not to make this process too complicated. Keep it as simple and visually understandable as possible.
At this point, you are ready to rewrite the final copy of your list. Rewrite it in a neat and orderly fashion. Write it in a specially designated notebook or on a poster that you can put up in a special place that will be most effective for motivating you. You will need to be referring to your list often. Be sure to leave some blank space that would be available for adding any other small tasks that may come to mind later. The idea here is to see a visible “big picture” of your big job in small manageable chunks. This is the “Divide and Conquer” principle. A large victory is won by winning all the small battles along the way.
Now you can look at each separate item and decide if it is something you need to do yourself or if you can possibly simplify it, delegate it to someone else, hire someone to get it done, or even skip it entirely if it won’t really matter in the whole scheme of things. For example, you may decide that colour coding your list of phone numbers might not be worth the time it takes to do. We all have great ideas, but sometimes they are too complicated and in the back of our mind they may actually be holding us back from taking concrete action in other areas. Beware of these things that may be undermining your energy and initiative. The idea is to try to break things down as simply as possible and try to eliminate all the unnecessary things that may be robbing you of your effectiveness.
Now that you have this nicely laid out plan before your eyes, it is time to take action. This is where things often get derailed! Now it should be easier to tackle one small item at a time. Some people prefer to dive right in and get thev worst jobs done first and then get through the rest. But others, like myself, need to tackle a bunch of small items to build up the confidence to get to those tougher things. You may also want to come up with some good rewards that will help motivate you into action. Just scan your overall plan in order to find the best items for you to start with. Once you start tackling several of your little, manageable jobs, the “big picture” won’t loom so big after all.
I hope this little article has been helpful in motivating someone into action and improving their life even just a little bit!
by Nicole Berube