Tackling a complicated task can be hard. How does one know when, where, and how to start? The task at hand could be writing a book, painting a picture, or instituting a good habit and stopping a bad one. This author has been experimenting with breaking down difficult tasks into their composite elements until but simple bits remain, then addressing those bits individually, one at a time.
Few people who write books, for example, sit down and complete the whole thing at one go. Most writers compose one sentence or paragraph at a time, churning out the pages through laborious, daily, methodical, repetitive effort. Faced with the challenge of writing a feature-length, stand-alone piece, this author sat frustrated for weeks until he tried the tactic of breaking down each chapter into an individual file, then each chapter into individual paragraphs (by marking each with an underline). The next step was setting himself deadlines for fleshing out the various paragraphs of a given chapter, whereupon he’d remove the underline markers and click the files closed upon their completion (after copying the newly created content into a master file, of course). This process turned the complex task of writing a new chapter into a series of simple acts, each with its own visible and tactile elements.
This process, he thinks, is scaleable; it applies to most tasks. To tidy up a room, identify the areas within it that need attention, grab broom and dustpan, then focus on one brush-stroke at a time. To fix a flat bicycle tire, assemble the required tools, remove the wheel, then focus on one step of the process at a time. For persons looking to understand more of the reasoning behind this may of approaching complex tasks, please refer to verse 63 of the Tao Te Ching (translated by J. Star), which reads: Step by step the world’s burden is lifted; Piece by piece the world’s treasure is amassed.
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I bicycle, write, surf, and the rest.