Do you ever procrastinate? Would you like to put a stop to this time-wasting habit? You can make progress today by breaking your to-do list into mini-tasks.
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Here’s how it works:
A mini-task is a task that is so small you couldn’t make it any smaller without being silly about it. Calling a supplier to ask a specific question would be a good example of a mini-task. In general, mini-tasks take 15 minutes or less to accomplish.
This time management technique addresses one of the most common causes of procrastination on larger projects: uncertainty about where to get started. For example, writing a book is a sequence of achievable tasks, but people frequently have a difficult time even getting started on such a seemingly huge project.
Ideally, you’d plan the entire process from beginning to end. This may not always be possible; some projects have too much uncertainty to be able to predict the entire process from the beginning. But you could still develop a task list for as far as you’re able to see. At some point, you’ll be able to see further down the path and can develop new mini-tasks.
Let’s use a simple example: holiday shopping.
Here’s a sample of what your mini-task list might look like:
1. Make a budget for all holiday shopping.
2. Make a list of everyone to shop for.
3. Decide which stores would be best for each item.
4. Organize all items by store so I only have to go to each store one time.
5. Develop a shopping schedule.
6. On 12/1 I will go to Wal-Mart and Best Buy and purchase those items.
7. On 12/8 I will go to the mall and get all the applicable items on the list.
Driving to the store and shopping will likely take more than 15 minutes, so you’re welcome to break down the tasks as much as you like.
A good rule is that if the thought of completing the task fills you with dread, you might feel less daunted if you break your process down into smaller tasks.
More Benefits of Mini-Task Lists
A list of mini-tasks is like a recipe; all you have to do is move down the list. When you get to the end, you’re done. None of the tasks should take a lot of time or be so complex that you’re hesitant to complete the step.
An added benefit of making such a list is that you’ll have an excellent idea of how long the overall project will take. Assigning an accurate time estimate without having really considered all the tasks involved can feel challenging.
Making a list of mini-tasks can also be an effective way to plan your day. Even if you don’t think this will work for you, give it a try for a few days and see.
The evening before, make a list of all the tasks you need to do for the following day. This likely means a list of 50 or so items. This might very well be overkill but try it anyway. You can always scale back as needed. If you often feel like you never get anything done, this might be a great tool to apply daily.
Mini-tasks are a viable way of completing large or complex projects.
By breaking everything down into simple, small, and manageable components, you’re much less likely to procrastinate. For a lot of people, this is a very effective way to consistently get a lot done. Try mini-tasking instead of multi-tasking and watch your efficiency soar!