Last week, I talked about batching: breaking up complex tasks into their component steps, then doing just one step multiple times at once.
When all the steps are batched like this, the work on each step goes much faster than if you do all the steps in a complex task one after another, switching your attention, your tools and resources, and refocusing for each step.
The opposite of batching is chunking: Breaking up a big task into chunks of time.
Chunking is eating an elephant one bite at a time.
If the task is a monotask–without multiple steps you can break up into batches–then it’s a good candidate for chunking.
There’s two ways to chunk.
The idea behind this approach is to clear the decks, and do nothing but the big job. It might take you a full day, or a few days. You dedicated all your time and energy into getting ‘er done.
Jobs that have a distinct end are good for big chunks. So are jobs that have deadlines. Changing all your categories on Amazon. Adding all your books to a new retail site.
Projects and jobs that are monotasks–the brain-deadening, must-be-done chores, such as sorting and filing documents on your hard drive, often don’t have a clear end. They’re massive, and tend to generate new work every day.
These are the jobs you have to chunk down. 15 minutes a day. Or 30 minutes. If you’re not staying on top of the work, if it generates more items to process than you can deal with in your allotted time, then up the time each day until you’re staying on top of the work over the long term.
You’ll quickly figure out how much time you can devote to these tasks, and how much time you should devote to them.
Be cautious about having too many of these chunked up jobs on your to do list. They’ll chew up time you might not be able to spare.
One way to pare down these chunked up daily projects is to string them together consecutively. When you get to the end of one project, the next highest in priority takes over the time you dedicated to the first, and so on.