Everything is Easy When It's Small

Many years ago I modeled a woman who is a wife, a mother, and a lawyer. She literally got more things done in a day than most people do in a week. When we began to explore HOW she did all of this, it turns out that she has a simple strategy that I've used to this day to get more things done without undue effort.

We started by asking her for an example of something she had done that day and she replied: "Cleaning the hot tub." That morning before our class, she had decided that the hot tub needed to be drained and cleaned. She identified the tasks: draining, cleaning, and refilling. Then she evaluated her time; she had 15 minutes before she had to leave for class. And she asked herself: "Which one can I do right now?" She realized that she could hook up the hose to drain the tub in that time available. And then she told herself to: "Just do it." She figured she'd get around to cleaning the tub later. And this is how she runs her whole life: What jobs need to be done? What are the component tasks? Which one can I do right now?

Many people ask me how to write a book, which most people find too daunting because they think about the WHOLE book, not just one chapter at a time. They think about sitting at the keyboard laboring away for eight hours a day instead of rocking and rolling for an hour or two on a subject you feel passionate about, whether it has anything to do with the book or not.

As it turns out, what I've done with writing is what the lawyer has done with all aspects of her work and life:

  1. Think about a job or project you want or need to do at work or home.
  2. What are the various steps or tasks that need to be done?
  3. Which one do you have time to do RIGHT NOW?
  4. Just do it.
  5. Return to Step 3 when time permits until the job is complete.

My wife is a software engineer. She designs, codes and tests software for the phone company. To get her projects done on time, she follows the same process. While other programmers are wringing their hands and working feverishly at the last minute, she works steadily everyday and rarely encounters a problem.

It's amazing how much you can get done when you have 15 to 30 minutes and you have a way of chunking larger projects down into smaller tasks. And it's a lot easier to get motivated to do a short, small task than to start a monolithic one.

What is some small part of a larger task that you want to do RIGHT NOW?

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