Power of “Breaking it down” – 10 minutes and NOW


It has been months since my last blog post. Call it laziness, lethargy, procrastination, sudden lack of confidence in my writing skills – every one of these had something to do with it. I used to tell myself that I had to do it. But never did it.

Last night, I was teaching my 9 nine year old daughter Navya how to compute the area of shapes. I was teaching her how to break the shape into rectangles and squares, calculate the area of each and then add them up. Suddenly, it dawned on me as to how I could break down this wall of not blogging.

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It is simple – “10 minutes” and “Now”. I even have this written down on my monitor at work. When something feels too big and I have trouble getting started, I try breaking it down into steps each of which would take 10 minutes. And then I start doing them NOW. Believe it or not, it has been working and a proof point is this blog post. I just opened WordPress and started writing.

Try it for yourself. Whether you are a software product manager procrastinating on starting a requirements doc for a complex feature or you are a painter wanting to start a painting, break it down into “10 minute” chunks and start on it “Now”.

10 minutes get over fast and before you realize you are 30 minutes into it. The sense of accomplishment suddenly carries you forward. Agile development methodology is built on this core principle of breaking things down, building fast and shipping often.

Do you agree? Thoughts, comments?

Image: Courtesy of digitalminimalism.com

5 thoughts on “Power of “Breaking it down” – 10 minutes and NOW

  1. Well said Gopal. I have used this in all my “partnership” discussions as a Product Manager in the last 14 years. I picked this up from my mentor early on about always asking the question at the end of a very interesting partnership discussions – “What can we do in the next 48 hours?”

    If anyone has done any partnership work they would realize that we all have amazing things to talk and discuss during such meetings and while we should have a long term view to anything this helps bring an “Agile” type of view to breaking things down..

  2. Really good tip! Getting started is the hurdle and by telling yourself you only need to spend 10 minutes gives you the permission that it’s OK if you don’t finish it today. The added benefit is that if you spend only 10 minutes or 30 minutes a day working on that task, you are iterating on your previous work which means that you’ll probably end up with better results!

  3. Some very valid points stated concisely and effectively. The analogy with “Agile” is very suitable in this scenario. As product managers, we often get too bogged down in planning and suffer from “paralysis of analysis”. Once we get the first iteration started, we will become much more productive and gain momentum to carry on through the rest of the project.

  4. I like this, and not just product management, it works when you have to ask yourself to jog or exercise. Just tell it is only ten minutes and get started. Once you start, you will get into grove and get going for even more.

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