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Efficiency: Touch Once or Chunk


Greater efficiency and productivity occur when you can handle tasks through to completion. This principle means you move tasks directly from your inbox to your outbox.

Occasionally, the task returns to the inbox multiple times. This means you repeatedly have to reestablish the point of continuance often resulting in lost productivity.

Tasks do not get completed when something necessary for completion is unavailable. You also have to revisit tasks when there is not enough motivation or time. When pieces are lacking our contribution is temporarily paused. If motivation is the issue we might be procrastinating or distracted and fundamentally are not fully committed to completion. When there is a shortage of time, it makes sense to chunk a project into distinct steps. This shifts the focus to completing each individual step.

What can we do in each of these cases? A good analogy is Tetris where you are working to create a shape that allows you to get to the outbox (drop off the screen).

Touch Once or Chunk

If you are waiting on something to continue a project, the action is simply to check the status and follow up as needed. This is also a good opportunity to check it with the plan for continuation once the ball is back in your court. Sometimes the piece that is missing is part of our own skill set. If this is the case, then consider the smallest steps needed to build mastery in that area.

If you are not fully focused, you can choose to push through to completion of the step anyway. Alternatively, you might go down a rabbit hole and not complete the task. It is helpful to develop an awareness of this pull away from the task. This means you also have an option to try to understand what is causing the lack of engagement. It may be that you need to provide your body an opportunity to recharge. Or perhaps to reconnect with aspects of the project that you found inspiring.

Sometimes there are extensive projects that will take many months to complete. This means it is useful to break it down into small steps. This provides a marker for progress as well as opportunities to course correct. Examine your systems to see where there are breaks in the process and whether these make sense. Can you identify small steps to complete in a single sitting? Do they enable you to move each one moves from in-box to outbox?

On occasion, we do not estimate very well how long something is going to take and so have to chunk in real-time. Doing this means that you minimize how much overlap you have to do to pick up where you left off. The best chunks occur at natural break points.

Image by Teyssier Gwenaelle from Pixabay