A lot of times we find ourselves procrastinating and avoiding doing the things we need to do because they may seem overwhelming or too large to tackle. When you have a large task to complete, where do you start? How do you get going in the first place? There are several techniques that you can use to enable you to tackle any task and get any job done efficiently and on time. These techniques can even help you to overcome your fear of tackling those large complex projects and problems.
In this article, we’ll discuss two of the best techniques for tackling large, difficult, or complex tasks. The first technique is called chunking and the second is called outlining. With both of these techniques in hand, you will finally be able to get started and achieve more than you ever thought possible. In addition, these tools will enable to end procrastination and finally start getting those tough tasks done.
Technique 1: Chunking
The idea of chunking is very simple. Basically, you can take any task or project and break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. For projects or tasks that need to be completed linearly, this could be setting up realistic milestones with logical stopping points. For other big tasks, chunking could literally mean only focusing on completing 1/8th or 1/10th of the total task before allowing yourself to stop.
When a task is “chunked” you are able to commit yourself to only complete a small part or section of the overall task. From a psychological perspective, it’s much easier to eat one bite of meal multiple times then it is to swallow the whole pie all at once. In other words, doing small pieces incrementally will eventually lead you to completion. Chunking works best for tasks that are lengthy and filled with a lot of the same type of activity (like exercising, organizing your closet, etc.)
Example of Chunking
The chunking technique can be used for a variety of things. One area where the use of chunking is popular is in the fitness world. If you are an avid athlete or a fitness fanatic then you likely know what chunking is. For instance, if your goal is to work out for 20 minutes then you can change your perspective and commit to doing 20 one minute long workouts instead. It’s much easier to work out for one minute than it is for 20. Another example is if you are running laps on a track you can tell yourself that you “only need to complete one more lap” in order to get you around the track. Once you reach the end of that lap, you can repeat the phrase and do it all over again. The same logic can be applied to other forms of exercise as well as many other things in life.
Another Example of Chunking
Let’s say you’re working on a research paper for school and you have to write 20 pages of material. You may only have a week or two to do this and it seems overwhelming. How are you possibly going to write 20 pages about some off-the-wall topic that you aren’t interested in? The first thing you could do is to break up the project into chunks. Tell yourself that today you will only write one paragraph. Focus on only writing one paragraph and don’t even think about the remaining work to be done. One paragraph is easy to do right? Certainly, it’s much easier than writing 20 pages in one go! After you’ve completed your first paragraph you may find it easier to complete the second one and so on and so forth. And before you know it, you will have the entire paper done!
Technique 2: Outlining
Outlining is another simple technique for getting big tasks done. It tends to work better for complicated tasks or ones that must follow a series of potentially non-linear steps to accomplish. With this technique, the idea is that you will first sit down and map out all of the steps, process, and/or decision points that need to be accomplished in order to complete the task in its entirety. The main difference between outlining and chunking is that the outlining process focuses on sub-tasks which are subordinate to the main task whereas chunking looks at ways to break a larger task down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
I’ve used outlining a lot in my work because it helps to add clarity and direction to what needs to be done in order to accomplish a task. When assigned a large or complex task I will typically spend the first few hours or so just simply mapping out or outlining all the of the subtasks that need to get completed. Next, I will work on further subdividing the subtasks into smaller units that can be completed with only 1-3 hours worth of work each. At this point, I will develop a work plan that acts like a roadmap which will get me from the beginning of the project all the way to the end. By then, I should also have a pretty good idea of how much time, effort, and resources that I will need in order to get the project done.
Example of Outlining
One of the best examples of the outlining process is that of writing a book or a research paper. When you first sit down to start writing either of these, it is best to begin by outlining the different parts of the story you are going to tell. If it’s a book that you are working on, then your outline will most likely form a series of main ideas which may eventually form each chapter. In a research paper, each sentence in your outline would likely correspond to main ideas or talking points in different sections. Once you have an outline completed, then you can focus on writing each chapter or section individually. This is a much easier way to get things done than to simply jump into the task.