We all have those tasks to do that we put off, because it looks like a big job. It may be a report, or sorting out your inbox emails, or those meeting notes you’ve taken at the time but not really looked at – you get the gist. They are usually tasks that are a mixture of being somewhat complex and also not very exciting or motivating.

The trouble is, the longer we put them off, the bigger they seem to get, so we need a way of tackling them that is not daunting. So, my suggestion is to break it down into smaller chunks – as the saying goes, the way to eat an elephant is to take small pieces at a time!

Clear 10 extra emails a day, sort through one set of meeting notes, get the info you need for the report from one of the sources – just do some small piece towards it. Those small pieces don’t take too long or too much effort, and cumulatively they bring the task down to a manageable size.

Now sometimes we tell ourselves off, because we know it isn’t really such a big job – but we still don’t do it! There’s no point in judging ourselves or being logical about it, because that doesn’t help to get the job done. What does help is still to break it down into even smaller chunks. For example, to respond to that email requires checking your diary to see if you’re free, checking what else you are doing that week, and doing some prep for it – the travelling time, the info you’ll need. So make it a 5 or 6 step project. Once you have started it, it will get easier to finish.

Things that are left hanging because they feel daunting don’t usually go away – in fact they occupy a part of our mind all the time they’re left, and often seem to keep growing bigger! That uses energy we could more usefully put elsewhere. And once you start chipping away at them, they almost always turn out to be easier than we thought.

So come on, do that first small step on that thing that’s hanging over you, and make your life easier.

Di Kamp
Leadership Director of Meta

About Jo Clarkson

Jo Clarkson is the CEO of Meta and a frequent writer of the Meta-Org.com blog.
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