It’s the curse of doing large things – the constant questioning from other people and even yourself, wanting to know if you’re done yet. I hate it. It makes me mad. I want to scream, “NO! Can’t you see I’m still working?! Go away and I’ll tell you when I’m done!”
Now, compare that to the happiness of a recent conversation I had:
- Client: “Hey, looks like you’ve been making some great progress today! I see a lot of things checked off!”
- Me: “Heh – not really. Just another day of work. Except I broke the tickets down in to smaller things.”
- Client: “Great! Keep up the great work – I’m glad to see you’re getting so much done!”
So, what’s the difference, here? It’s not the client… I’ve had the same client for well over a year now, and I’ve had more than one instance of me wanting to yell about when I’ll be done. The difference is in how I broke down the big things that I was working on. I made myself look good by having many smaller things to do and showing that I was getting them done.
Check Check Check
When you look at a task board, issue list, ticket system or any other place where you keep a list of things to do, it can be overwhelming to see that One Giant Thing To Do. It’s a monumental task that scares you when you think about it, and makes you want to crawl under your desk and hide.
Like so many other tasks in our lives, though, it becomes much more manageable when we break that One Giant Thing To Do down in to smaller things to do. Suddenly that giant thing seems like it may actually be possible because you can see that you’ve made progress. You’ve moved tickets across your task board, checked them off, or done whatever it is that you do to say these small things are done.
As an added bonus to getting many small things done every day, you’ll find your own satisfaction increasing. When you can look back at your list of things to do and see that you got 15 things done today, instead of looking at that One Giant Thing To Do that has been on your list all month, you will be much happier.
Getting things done makes us, as people who do things, happy. It also makes our client / boss / team / customers / etc happy. When the people for whom we are building things can see the progress we are making (even if they don’t understand that progress), they know that we are working and are going to get it done eventually.
Break It Down, Now
The next time you set out to conquer that One Giant Thing To Do, take a few moments and break it down in to smaller things.
When you’ve got a rough idea of the smaller things, get started on one of them. Break it apart and break it down further when you see the need.
The perception of productivity will greatly improve your outlook on the One Giant Thing To Do.