Bite-size your way to productivity
There is only one way to eat an elephant - a bite at a time - Desmond Tutu
There are some definite advantages to working from home and enough has been written about those since March 2020. Covid-19 however has added an unfortunate variable of ‘work at home’ to an endless quantum of work from home - thereby blurring boundaries and causing burnout. With schools and day cares schools, domestic help limited and restaurants closed, the entire conundrum of ‘how to be productive working at home’ suddenly fell upon us.
Some of us are on the overworked end of the spectrum. We don’t know when to stop working, hopping from one task to another and one call to another, never getting a moment to rest. Some others though are on the overwhelmed end of the spectrum. Never knowing where to start from because between video calls, emails and presentations, they also have to squeeze in cooking, cleaning and parenting! Its daunting – especially for structure people like me, who created their next day’s to-do list before going to bed every night!
Some of my friends are fortunately in the middle of this work-life balance spectrum. Speaking to them was very insightful and helped me uncover the concept of bite-sizing tasks.
As a learning and development professional, I’m a huge fan of bite sized learning. So this was a natural progression for me. Breaking down something large and daunting into chewable chunks leads to greater effectiveness. And it appears that it’s as true for learning as it is for productivity.
The concept is simple - if a task takes me one hour to complete, and I am unable to schedule a clear one hour in my day, due to interruptions at home, then I need to chunk it down. If I can squeeze in 15 minutes, I start the task. If I manage 20 minutes, that’s great. Or else I leave it at 15, and come back when I get my next 15 minutes window.
Now I know this may sound over simplistic, but once you practice it, you’ll be surprised at how powerful it is in breaking you out of a procrastination loop. Plus, for me personally this technique works wonders because most of my work involves thinking and chewing on those thoughts. The actual time I need to spend in front of a laptop is very less if my thoughts are well structured and deeply thought through. So you could find me deep me thought, folding laundry, or some other such mundane task!!
Not only does the bite-sizing technique help you fit in so much more during the day, the breaks actually help cut the monotony and give your body the much needed physical movement.
So the next time your partner asks you to do the dishes, schedule it between your presentations and email marathons, and you may surprise yourself with the results!