Chunk Size and Sequence Really Do Matter
Some years ago, I needed some time from an individual who considered himself quite busy, and was not wanting to cooperate as a
result. “You don’t understand,” he said. “I have to answer 300 emails!” “Not all at once!” I snapped back. He stopped, startled, and actually did a double-take.
What startled him so dramatically is that we humans tend to think of a task overall. He was thinking of “300 emails” as a single chunk, a daunting task. That’s why my “not all at once” was so startling to him. He wasn’t accustomed to thinking about it as separate emails that can each be answered at discrete, separate, units of time. I happen to know for a fact, though, that he does NOT answer all 300 in one sitting. But he hadn’t been thinking about it that way.
Too many people get stymied by “overload,” when they are representing multiple problems all at once. There are specific, very useful, techniques to help a person break out of overload and be able to focus on specific tasks in a more useful sequence. Some of those techniques are kind of fun, actually, as long as the person who used to be overloading herself is willing to be flexible and play with it.
One of the drivers for procrastination is the person tries to represent the task they have to do in its entirety, rather than simply thinking about what the first thing they have to do is. Ask yourself, “What do I need to do first?” and then make a picture of that task. What do you need to do next? Make a picture of that and put it after the first one. Do three or four of those steps and see how much easier it is to imagine doing that task that was daunting you at first. If that first one still seems too large or imposing, break IT up into smaller pieces. Once you’re able to think of the task calmly, you’ve probably gotten it broken into sufficiently chewable pieces.
There’s a lot of magic in being able to make tasks bigger or smaller by how you change the representation of them. Try it!
This is obviously a very simple technique that folks out in the world refer to frequently with the old joke: Q. “How do you eat an elephant?” A. “One bite at a time!” That joke is such a cliche that I would never dream of actually using it in my blog, but you can appreciate how elegantly it communicates the concept of breaking things into appropriately sized pieces, rather than pretending to be a python and trying to take the whole thing on at once!
If you DO suffer from overload, feel free to contact us at Bright Mind. We could help you divvy that elephant into proper sized servings and streamline your whole meal.