In book “THE ONE THING: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gray Keller and Jay Papasan, they mention that everyone has 24 hours in a day. So, why do some people achieve more, earn more and get more things done? They “go small”, he says :

“When you want the absolute best chance to succeed at anything you want, your approach should always be the same. GO small.
‘Going small’ is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most.
It’s tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing the extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make focus.”

With this we must realize the truth that we can do anything but cannot do everything.

During the development days, we used to divide a large software application into smaller parts and each team member would handle their own part. This is what is “Go small”. It helps to achieve the things faster as all of us used to work towards the same goal but were completely focused to our smaller piece without worrying about the complete system.

You must have heard the term Agile Development Methodology, this also follows the same “Go small” and breaks the system into modules.

Start as small as possible

The advice to “go small” works on multiple levels. Choosing your goal or main project is the first step. Then, once you know what you are trying to achieve, go more deeper into it. Always ask yourself :

“What’s the smallest version we could create that would still produce results?”

It’s the same idea as building a Minimum Viable Product. Once you have that mini version, gather feedback. Refine and work and you way to a bigger, better model. Keep going and you’ll achieve more than you thought was possible.

Explore – within your boundaries

Focusing on a single small task can sound dull – especially if you are a creative person. But doing so isn’t boring, rather there can be still room for exploration if you create clear boundaries.

When you are working on major project, always have some time off for yourself like Friday “Exploration days”, “Hackathon Days”. These off-the-wall ideas can spark innovation, so you must experiment but on limited times without deviating from your goals.

Keep yourself focused

According to a study in 2010 by Killingsworth and Gilbert, people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are currently doing.

Even these distractions makes us unhappy. When we are happy doing something, our mind starting thinking of something else where we can be more happy. Applying this to development, when we achieve the small part of a module, we start to think about the other things that can achieved, even before completion of the module. It’s human nature. But if you are focused, yes think about what can be achieved but finish the current part.

Box your time

Whatever you are trying to do, try “boxing” time for it and try to achieve it within the specified time. Ignore the distractions, facebook messages, emails, calls, making coffee. Get laser focused for that set period of time and then take a break. Repeat as needed.

The Pomodoro Technique is one example strategy, which breaks every work sprint into 25-minute intervals.

Box your energy

We all have limited energy. Even the “sleepless elite” ( high performers like Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi who works 18 hours a day ) will eventually run out of fuel.

Doing one thing at a time will preserve your precious energy. Just like timeboxing, you can get even more intentional about shifting your energy towards what matters.

If you have anything big next day, get more sleep, eat more leafy greens and stay relaxed.

Make a clean break

Always separate work from your personal life. It sounds simple but when you start work from home, its up to you to create real limits. Set office hours, for example, and don’t clock in outside those periods.

Always have a habit – “When I leave the office, I do everything I can do, leave work there”. Be present with your family and enjoy your time with them. You need to rest and recover.

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