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.
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
For a number of reasons, I have not been working as much lately as I could have been working. I used to organize my days as I saw fit, with long segments set aside for writing and reading and studying and drawing. Now, however, I am once again an employee of somewhere, and while there are no set hours I still have to be somewhere beside where I maybe totally want to be for a good five hours each day. No more putting off writing until I'm in the mood – it is now part of my new evening routine, coming right after supper (and before the grumpies set in). No more mashing pedal into downtown to blog without having written anything yet confident in my ability to pull kazoo and huzzah and whizzbang out of my arse – now I must be prepared, ready, steeled, and focused. On top of writing I am finishing up the homework for yoga teacher's training, reading many books and a thick binder and writing many book and binder reports. But few of my plates are spinning – how on Earth do people it who have children and full-time jobs and significant others and emails and phone calls? I cannot really fathom being so very busy with my life that I could neglect friends and family and acquaintances more than I do, now. In essence, I have tasted a stress-free and productive (though not affluent or all-too exciting) style of living, and I like it. Take your dozen plates and spin them – I'll be just fine eating rice, making art, and bicycling. Aho.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥
blog updated thrice weekly
Among other things I am barber, bicyclist, surfer, vagabond, writer, and yogi.