Chunk It

A couple of weeks ago I took on a new project. This brings the total of personal projects to seven plus my day job which has its own set of projects. That may not be a lot for you, but it’s a significant number for me, particularly because the new project is a very different project with challenges different from my normal run of projects and thus demands a different kind of attention to actually get it done.

The question of how to move forward on all these projects at once naturally arises. Multitasking would be the immediate answer of many. Unfortunately, multitasking is mythology—at least for me. I find that if I try to do more than one thing at a time, everything seems to take longer and the work on each task is less than it could be. But dutifully I went to the internet to see if perhaps I was missing something. It turns out that multitasking really is a myth. Look it up. And it turns out that my experiences with attempted multitasking are supported by nearly every study on that topic. Study after study shows that attempted multitasking really takes more time and results in lowered productivity; one study even suggested that multitasking was actually bad for brains.

If not multitasking, what? Handling the projects sequentially would seem be a good choice, particularly as it facilitates flow and appeals to my obsessive personality; however, because of the nature of the projects and various deadlines, this is not feasible. The question then becomes how to move forward on all projects in a somewhat efficient manner.

The answer is to chunk it, it being time. Basically it just means spending significant time on each project successively. Hardly a new idea, but one that seems to work.

For me, this idea evolved into a two-step procedure: (1) Review each project every day to refresh and determine the next step in whatever process is involved. This brief review also allows the subconscious the opportunity to consider the project and work on it while I’m eating lunch. (2) Select a project and a chunk of time and do nothing else for that amount of time. (I’m not using a timer, but the thought occurred to me.) Presetting an amount of time to work on the project allows full concentration for that chunk of time, which, in turn, allows the development of flow and the minimization of distractions. Limiting the time also allows moving from one project to another in the same evening. Obviously, the longer the time spent on a single project, the better, but this becomes an individual choice. Chunks could be so large that one would take up the entire project time for one day; the next day could then be used for a different project, and so on.

There is an alternative to presetting the amount of time allotted for each project. When I review projects, I look for the next step. The completion of that next step then becomes my target. I then work on that project until that target is achieved or until that step becomes a failure; only then do I move on to the next project.

It’s a new system—to me anyway, but so far it’s working well. Will it work for you? It might. Give it a try; chunk it.

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Date: Sunday, 31. March 2019 23:32
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity, Productivity

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