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114 Key Principles for Success

Principle 18 - Small Tasks

Do small tasks ahead of large tasks

If one task will take 5 days and another 2 minutes. Which one should you work on first?

The 2 minute one.

I discovered this principle a long time ago while in college. I learned that the algorithm used to print output was that the smallest jobs were printed first. That way the average wait time was the least. In the previous example doing the small task first yields an average wait time of 2 days 1 minute. Doing the larger tasks first yields an average wait time of 5 days, 1 minute.

The exception to this rule is if you have a deadline and don't have time for the small task.

Every day set aside some time to do small tasks. Create a list of these and randomly select from it.

Turn big tasks into small tasks

Big tasks are hard to do because they can overwhelm you. The trick is to break big tasks into smaller tasks. There's a famous saying "How do you eat an elephant?"  "One bite at a time."

So with writing my books I focus on the small writing of an article or chapter and then build from that.


Say you're overwhelmed on decluttering your house. You can start with a draw, then your desk, then a room, then one room at a time until the house is decluttered. Before you know it, the overwhelming task of decluttering your house is done.


The same concept can apply to writing programs. Write a small piece of code. Then write another small piece and combine it with the first piece. Keep proceeding one small step at a time.

Weight Loss

I used this concept to lose weight with my idea. The main idea is to lose weight by focusing on a day at a time which is losing 1/7th of a pound per day or 1 pound per week vs. the much harder goal of losing 30 pounds.

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