Monday, September 24, 2007

Little Steps for Little Feet

Do you overwhelm yourself with all the things you have to do? In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns writes about a technique called Little Steps for Little Feet. It's a simple method to take action by breaking any proposed task down into its tiny component parts.

An extremely effective way to divide a task into manageable units is through time limitation. Decide how much time you will devote to a particular task, and then stop at the end of the allotted time, and go on to something more enjoyable, whether or not you’re finished.

Burns writes:

"Do you tend to bite off bigger pieces than you can comfortably chew? Dare to put modest time limits on what you do! Have the courage to walk away from an unfinished task! You may be amazed that you will experience a substantial increase in your productivity and mood, and your procrastination may become a thing of the past."
My Key Takeaways
I think there's two important distinctions here. One point is about breaking a task down. The other is about giving yourself a timebox to produce results. Chunking up problems is a great way to avoid an all-or-nothing approach, as well as to simplify a complex or overwhelming task. Timeboxing has multiple benefits. It's a great way to force prioritization. Because it's a limited box of time, it also forces you to be more thoughtful about what you choose to bite off. If you have a large pool of tasks, using timeboxes to chunk up the work is an effective way to make incremental progress.

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