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Breaking Bigger Actions Into Simple Tasks

Now that the working year seems to be back into full swing I have already had two conversations with client member's of staff about feeling overwhelmed with their continuous improvement projects.

I think we always hope that a short (Christmas) break from work will leave us relaxed when we come back to work, but as the effect seems to last about fifteen seconds the people I spoke to needed another strategy to help with this issue.

Thankfully there is a simple, and well used, approach to dealing with this issue - breaking larger actions (or even projects) into smaller and better defined tasks.

This may increase the total number of tasks on your project plan or to-do list, which is a common complaint I hear about this approach. You will, of course, also be able to knock these extra items off more quickly and so they won't be hanging around for long.

One of my other clients had a similar issue with their continuous improvement action logs. Good ideas were generated and documented for completing later. The problem they faced was that when they got back to complete these mini-projects they looked too large to squeeze into their working day and procrastination set in. When we discussed this observation they also said that they didn't know what to do with the action. By breaking the actions down into sub-actions (or, creating a proper plan with small steps in it) they could then see a way forward; actions were duly taken and progress was made.

Better definition of each step also aids you to get a better end result. A little more thought that goes into each step can certainly help when it comes to completing the tasks and achieving the overall project / task.

If you have larger tasks to undertake, that you aren't getting around to, then it is worth taking even just a few minutes to try and break them down into sub-tasks and thinking through a little more about what needs to happen to complete each one. This is especially true if you are feeling overwhelmed and need to make progress fast.



Giles Johnston
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering