How to break tasks into bits
Yetunde Ososanya & Okikiola Babalola | Wednesday, 12 October 2022
So, I am not a good cook, but most times I end up cooking delicious soups. You might wonder how? Well, I just follow recipes and the step-by-step process of adding each ingredient, and guess what? It works! I don't just throw all the ingredients at once. I break the steps in a timely manner. Most times I add my fried steak when it's 5 minutes to get the soup off the cooker.
But why am I telling you this? Obviously, this isn't a soup-making article, but figuratively it is. If you start taking every task you're working on as a soup-making process, it would be much easier to break tasks into bits.
Also, just like how it's advisable to chew food in bits to avoid choking, the same goes for large tasks. Keep reading to discover how to break down your tasks into manageable pieces to avoid choking.
Breaking Tasks or Not?
Most times, you unnecessarily get frustrated because you attempt to tackle the heap of tasks before you, all at once, and eventually succeed with less. Yeah! I’ve been there as well.
But, do you know that while you are in the dark and struggling with frustration, there is always someone handling similar tasks, but way ahead of you? How is that even possible? Well, it's no magic! The secret is micro-productivity.
Micro productivity is achieving productivity in bits. It is the water you drop consecutively to create the mighty ocean you so desire. This is the goal of breaking tasks into bits.
Splitting tasks enables maximum productivity through gradual and consistent efforts. When the little progress achieved from the small units of broken tasks is merged, it will eventually sum up to a huge outcome that seemed unattainable in the first place. In essence, that mountain task can be broken into smaller tasks.
Becoming a Virtual Tribe member enlightened me on the importance of task-breaking, and micro-productivity. It is an everyday practice here. Whenever you're given a task here, it is mandatory to break the tasks into smaller tasks and tackle them one after the other. Trello and Hubstaff are software used at VT to track task progress, and time spent on each task, respectively.
You are also advised to work on a specific task for a maximum of 2 hours. Instead of spending long hours on a single task, here, at Virtual Tribe, you can alternate your working schedule with different tasks to enhance productivity. Quite interesting, right?
Why should you break tasks into bits?
You may wonder what all the fuss on task-breaking is about, given that you've been working on various tasks and projects without giving task-breaking much thought. But have you ever wondered why you procrastinate on some tasks and leave others undone? It's simply because you are frustrated? You now have the solution.
Breaking tasks into bits helps avoid frustration and procrastination. Procrastination creeps in when you see a task as too large to complete at a go. You begin to procrastinate to future days, hoping for a good day when you will feel so elated to work on the said task at once. If not properly contained, days will turn to weeks, weeks to months, and more.
However, when tasks are divided into chunks, you will be surprised at how you can complete a task that seemed so large at first.
Also, breaking tasks saves you from passing through the emotional phase of frustration. Yeah, everyone has been there. Especially if your efforts are not just working out. Rather than blaming others and other non-existing factors, it's best to break your tasks into smaller tasks and tackle them logically.
Tips to consider when breaking tasks to steps
Breaking tasks may appear so simple, but there is more to it than that. The goal is to effectively divide tasks to increase productivity. Here are some important tips to consider if you're on the path to breaking tasks.
How to break tasks into steps
Now, this is what you've been waiting for! Do ensure you digest each step and practice it with any pending task you have.
To break tasks into bits, you need to identify your task goal, identify major steps or processes, and break each major step into minor steps. In other words, you should work from the minor steps to the major steps, for maximum results.
To start with, you need to identify your task goal or focus. What exactly are you trying to achieve with your task? What’s your focus? What’s your task about? Identifying your goal will help you determine the various steps, processes, and routes to take to reach your final destination.
Like the soup-making process I keep referring to, first, you will agree that you need to determine the kind of soup you want to make. This will help you determine the steps to take and the ingredients you need. The same applies to your tasks.
This is the starting point of your task-breaking process. Ensure you understand your task and its goal.
Once your goal is set, the next step is to identify the important stages you need to scale through to achieve your goal. These stages are called milestones. The various important stages or milestones should be arranged in order of importance to the goal. For example, writing an academic project will include milestones such as fact-finding or research, creating outlines, creating drafts, and editing, among others.
After identifying your important steps or milestones, your milestones should be arranged in order of importance to the task you are working on. Using the same example earlier given, research should be the first milestone to be tackled, followed by outlines, drafts, and editing respectively. In other words, your milestones should be arranged in the right order and according to their relevance to the task in general.
It doesn’t end with arranging the milestones in their other of importance alone. You need to go the extra mile to split each of these milestones into smaller tasks that you can handle and complete within a short time frame. Your research milestone, for example, can be divided into specific topics and aspects you want to research. You can have sub-units like “research product”, “research marketing tools”, and “research competitors”.
Not clear yet? Let's take it back to our soup-making analogy. The important steps might be adding your sauce, adding seasonings, adding spices, adding your stock, adding water, and adding your steak. Now, you can break each of these important steps further. To add sauce, you can break it into adding tomato first, before adding bell pepper. The same applies to other important steps that can further be broken down.
To start working on your tasks, begin with the smaller units you’ve created for each important step or milestone. You should start working from the most important of these smaller steps to the least important smaller step, or vice-versa, as it relates to the milestone.
Here's a sample task-breaking process to help you understand better. Let's assume you have been assigned the task of submitting a project on Social Media Management.
First, you must understand the nature of the task and why you are undertaking it. You can learn more about the purpose of this task by conducting personal research or contacting the person who assigned it to you. For the purpose of learning, let's assume the task is about marketing.
The next step is to break the tasks into milestones in their logical order. The major milestones for this task will include research, drafting, editing, and submitting.
Each milestone can now be further broken down into sub-units, and the sub-units can be divided into other smaller tasks to include the following:
Research can be divided and sub-divided into the following:
Creating a draft should be the next important step after you’ve carried out all stages of research. However, you can also break down this step. First, you need to create an “outline”, then create drafts. Hence, the sub-tasks for this milestone will be; outlining, first draft, 2nd draft, etc.
This is another important step that should come after creating a draft. You can have different editing steps; which can include first edit, 2nd edit, etc.
This is the final stage of this task. However, you can still break down this step into creating slide shows, converting to PDF, or publishing, as the case may be.
Start breaking your tasks into bits
With all being said, I believe micro-productivity will help you achieve productivity in the shortest time. All you need to do is split and break down tasks to the barest minimum for productive outcomes. That’s how we work here at Virtual Tribe.
Now you can start breaking down your tasks. Keep breaking till there’s nothing left to chop off!