Break Complicated Tasks Down

The second major breakthrough in productivity I learned is that if you’re stalling or not getting a task done, the reason is that its probably too complex.  If you take a couple of steps back, and break it into a a checklist of pieces, it suddenly becomes easy to make progress.  Again, the key outcome is to be always having some momentum, no matter how small.

This sometimes takes a little while to realise – you may be stuck on a task and its unclear why you’re not getting further along.  You have to wake up at that point, and brainstorm how to break it into a smaller checklist.  Once you do that, its amazing how the most complicated things to get done suddenly become trivially easy!

I had this explained to me many years ago by a friend on my AIESEC International team, Ante Glavas.  But it didn’t really sink in back then.  More recently, Alan Weiss, the expert consultant talks about this in some of his materials.  Alan Weiss is also partially where my previous posting came from, about doing more by doing less.  He turns out a lot of work, yet his goal is to finish each day by 2pm.

BF Skinner, the person who came up with the (controversial) topic of classical operant conditioning was also extremely productive.  He used to write for just 25 minutes or so at a time, and always take forced breaks where he’d reward himself.  He wrote an insane number of books.  I mention BF Skinner, because his methods of classical operant conditioning and providing rewards made him very productive and they can for you too.  Getting good rewards is critical to maintaining motivation.  Don’t shoot the dog is the classic book on this topic, and you can read my review of it here: