Dealing with large tasks

Are you facing a large and complex task? Sometimes it’s hard to even get started, right?

A natural response would be to start analyzing the task searching for the most efficient way to deal with it. But it’s easy to over engineer a solution, and for me this is never the most efficient approach. I simply don’t (yet) know enough about the task to do this kind of thinking up front.

This is why I prefer to start with the smaller tasks that I actually do know how to deal with – without giving the bigger picture much though. I move on, one (sub)task at the time. This seems to work magic. I now naturally know the next natural step, and can create more (sub)tasks. All of a sudden, the large and complex task seems manageable.

I know this sounds trivial, but it’s really about the mindset. Of course, you have to put some thought into it, but over analyzing a task before you start working on it is waste. Instead, start with what you do know, and make it a habit to split tasks early if it’s too big. It’s better to do this early than late.

Every now and then you will get stuck in a task, because you made wrong assumptions. When this happens it’s hard to take a step back and start over (the right way). This is a muscle you have to train, so make sure you reward yourself whenever you manage to do so.

Related:
http://hunskaar.com/how-to-boost-your-personal-productivity-part-2/

2 thoughts on “Dealing with large tasks”

    1. I guess we could call it decomposition – or maybe sequencing (if there is a difference). For me it’s more efficient if I don’t decompose into many smaller tasks up front, but instead wait until I understand more of the domain.

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