There are a lot of different techniques out there for how to reduce or eliminate procrastination. Afterall, we all procrastinate … don’t we? If you haven’t found a technique that is right for you yet and you have a desire to stop procrastinating on a specific goal or project you are currently working on … then consider reading on.
This particular technique is called mini-tasking, not to be confused with multi-tasking. The idea is that you can literally do anything for at least 15 minutes. The idea that you can do anything for 15 minutes isn’t new in business or in personal development. Heck there is this amazing lady named Marla Ciley (www.flylady.net) that has made a living out of teaching people how they can break the daily maintenance of their entire home down into a 15 minute system.
I have an MBA in technology project management and part of our education also included how to break any task down into an amount of time that can be easily done from start to finish. There are even things like the Pomodoro technique that focus on small chunks of time to get things done as well. So why not give it a try on something you are avoiding – it seems to work for both work and life?
How Does This Mini-Tasking Really Work?
I will assume that I have convinced you to at least read on and find out if you think this might work for you. So, let’s get into the practical application of the technique. The basic idea is to make the task as small as possible without making it seem just ridiculous or silly. For example, if you wanted to cancel your internet service provider you wouldn’t break the tasks done into chunks this small:
- Research the phone number
- Collect your account information details to be prepared for the call
- Pick up the phone
- Dial the number
- Ask to speak to the cancellation department
- Cancel the service
- Get a confirmation number
- Hang up
Seems a bit silly, right? That is because it is a bit silly. Also, this is more of a procedure for completing a task that a mini-task. However, a mini-task could be ‘cancel internet service.” This is a task that most likely could be done in less than 15 minutes (well I guess it depends on how long they have you on hold, but let’s pretend it’s less than 15 minutes). The rule of thumb is to try to find a task within the larger project that can be done in 15 minutes or less and that feels like a task you can start and finish within that setting and that is isn’t ridiculously small – unless of course it amuses you.
How Does This Mini-Tasking Work on a Larger Task?
While the example of making a call to cancel your internet service seems reasonable, it is traditionally the entire project, isn’t it? So, what about a larger project that you might have been putting off like preparing for your child’s birthday party in a few weeks. Putting together and entire birthday party, even if just for close family and friends, can seem like a daunting task … and therefore a great candidate for your procrastination.
How might we break this down into a doable project? Now I should probably qualify this example with I error on the side of simplification when it comes to party planning, so your list might be larger – but I think it will get the point across.
Let’s brainstorm the 15-minute tasks below:
- Determine the location of the party – the date and time might be dependent on this
- Determine the date and time of the party
- Create the guest list
- Get a list of present ideas from your child
- Email all the guests that you have emails for of the date and time of the party and offer present ideas if they are interested
- Call all the guests that you don’t have emails for
- Create a list of presents you want to purchase
- Set a budget for how much you want to spend
- Order a cake
- Decide on party menu
- Organize present ideas by likely store
- Purchase wrapping paper
- Visit store A and buy presents
- Visit store B and buy presents
- Go to the Grocery Store and get cake and food for party.
- Wrap presents
- Enjoy party.
I’ll acknowledge driving to the store and/or shopping might take longer than 15 minutes, but you can’t really half drive to the store. Overall, the rule of thumb is to break a task that is larger or that you might be dreading down into smaller tasks that make sense.
Additional Benefits of Mini-Tasking
As if the idea of reducing your procrastination isn’t enough there are more benefits to mini-tasking. If you take a large task like planning a party and break it into mini-tasks then you can essentially create a ‘recipe’ or ‘checklist’ for the project type ‘planning a party.’ You can then easily follow the same checklist for future party planning projects, and you will be able to save time and angst by following your already proven recipe.
If you have difficultly judging how long a project might take you to complete, if you break the tasks down into what feels like 15 minutes or less, you can easily add up the number of tasks and multiply them by 15 minutes and you have a pretty decent estimate of the time it takes to finish the entire project.
Another benefit, for those that choose to use it this way, is you can consider using this method to preplan you day. You will likely create 50 – 15 minute tasks for the next day. Then you just start at the top of the list and work your way down. If that is too much to do in one day, then you can always scale back. Or, if that just doesn’t work for you – you can always try another way to plan the day.
This is a way you can plan and finish very large projects that you have been avoiding for a long time. You are must less likely to procrastinate when you only focus on the next mini-task. So why not try mini-tasking instead of multi-tasking?
If you would like some additional support on overcoming procrastination on July 20th we will be starting a 7 Day procrastination challenge. You can opt-in to the challenge here: https://www.pressplaylifestyle.com/7-days-beat-procrastination-challenge