My preferred definition of ‘project’ is from David Allen (of GTD fame):
Projects = Your outcomes that require more than one action step.
We don’t often think in how small these action steps are, but as of late I’ve been more aware of it. For example, my younger son needed a dojo patch sewn on his new gi.
It’s a small, out of the ordinary, project so there’s inherently some inertia to overcome to begin with, and I was having a tough time to find an uninterrupted hour, so I decided to take it one step at a time. Just complete one step. Then walk away. Provided the entire project is complete by Saturday morning – all is good.
So, here’s all the steps I took over 3 days for this one project:
- Put the new gi (no patch) and the old gi (patch) on the coffee table and walk away.
- Find the sewing box, put it atop the gis, and walk away.
- Open the sewing box and find something to rip the thread of the existing patch, set it atop the sewing box and walk away
- Remove the current patch and walk away
- Find pins in the sewing box, pin the patch on the new gi, and walk away
- Find a needle and appropriate colored thread in the sewing box, set them atop the box and walk away
- Sew on the new patch and put all the supplies away.
A seven step project and finished two days ahead of deadline because it was chunked into the smallest, most discreet next action.
Each of these actions took about as along watching a TikTok (or three), which would have been just as easy to do – but far, far less beneficial. TikTok (and so much of our online activity) is fitting in between larger commitments. Same idea, rather than burning off your cognitive surplus like an oil driller with excess natural gas, break your more beneficial, overwhelming projects into TikTok-sized next actions that you can cleanly walkaway from and prepare you for the next step when you return.
Years ago, I wrote about scheduling in 30, 60, or 90 minutes, TikTok-ifying is thinking even smaller, it’s for when even committing to 30 continuous minutes seems overwhelming,