Early Greek philosopher, Zeno, claimed that motion did not exist because motion was impossible.
His argument goes like this: Before you can reach any destination you must first go half way. Before you can go half way, you must first go half of that distance. Because this can go on ad infinitum, it is impossible to get anywhere.
I have days that seem Zeno to be correct. I see the infinite number of steps necessary to complete a project and I feel overwhelmed.
The current mantra is “break the task down into baby steps and do a little at a time”. In the vernacular, that makes me want to puke. Have you ever known a “baby stepper” that ever got anything done? Heck no. They’re trapped in Zeno’s paradox. The task is infinitely divisible into smaller and smaller steps. This same mush teaches that we deserve little self rewards for each baby step taken. Yup. Work on that project for ten minutes and you deserve a hot fudge sundae and a night at the movies. My gag reflex is killing me just thinking about this.
Focus on the most important task and stay with it until completed. Forget baby steps. Tackle the beast. Wrestle it. Win. If you want to get something done you need focus and self-discipline.
Think about this. If you’re the kind of person that needs the advice to break a task down, you’re probably also a person who is overwhelmed by having too many tasks! As soon as you break the task apart, the one task becomes the infinitely divisible many tasks. Zeno is not your friend.
If you feel overwhelmed by a task, think of it as the only thing you have to do. Zeno was wrong. You’ll be half done before you know it. When you finish, go have that sundae and take in a movie. You’ll actually deserve it.
Shameless Promotion: If you feel overwhelmed by having too much to do, I can help. As a sort of Mary Poppins (but a guy), that’s what I do. Call me on my cell:
(650) 823-2803
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog