Break Big Tasks Into Smaller Pieces To Avoid Distractions

Break Big Tasks Into Smaller Pieces To Avoid Distractions

When you’re working on that big project, it always feels like the best time to go do the dishes, organise your sock drawer or check Facebook. To keep momentum going, break your big project down into the same size tasks as the ones that are distracting you.

Picture: John Blyberg

As tips blog Dumb Little Man points out, part of the reason we get distracted when trying to work on big tasks is because they’re so big. If you break them down into little pieces, they get easier to work with:

The best solutions for getting started on anything big is to break it up into the small. And, do it quickly. This is a hard one for me. We have all had that project handed to us that we just know is going to be an absolute monster. We can project the mental output required to get it done, and it feels exhausting. So, what do we do? We take a peek at Instagram to see what’s going on. We take a moment to browse Google News. We avoid it. Even if just for a little while.

The problem is that the longer we avoid it, the more heads the monster sprouts. At least that is how we perceive it in our mind’s eye. Soon that project can be even more overwhelming than it was initially. Better to start breaking up that big project into smaller pieces right away before the additional heads start growing. Take a few minutes to think through that big thing. What are its component parts? What will be the real effort required? Write it down. Then start working on the easiest of those component parts first. The idea is that when you get the momentum rolling with a few quick wins, you will be better poised to tackle the hard thing next.

When the overwhelming work becomes something small you can focus on, it becomes much easier to tackle and your focused-brain can hone in on exactly what you need to do. Check out Dumb Little Man’s post below for other ways to avoid distractions.

4 Unconventional Ways To Eliminate The Distractions That Keep You From Creating Your Best Work [Dumb Little Man]


  • Absolutely! When I was doing my permanent residency application, any time a task got too hard, I’d break it up into multiple tasks. Sometimes the steps were ridiculously simple, but if that level of stupid-simplicity was what I needed in order to keep my momentum and make forward progress, shrug, that’s what I needed. By the end of the project, my project plan for it had over 100 steps, some of which were much lamer than others. And yes, I did get the PR.

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