A Thousand Cuts Wed, Dec 30, 2015
Logically, it's easy to grasp the idea of splitting a difficult task into smaller pieces. But when we first look at a large or complex problem, it's easy to get discouraged and allow despair to creep in. I personally have to make a conscious effort to break down the problem, or I tend to over-analyze it and freak out. Systematizing and practicing this breakdown makes it easier. Everyone has their own system, but here's mine:
1) Measure Twice: Before you start working, map out at least a high-level plan of how you're going to approach the problem. This helps lessen the feeling that you're just hacking away at a dense jungle with no idea where it'll end.
2) Start With the Edges: If you've ever done a jigsaw puzzle, you probably know the easiest way to start is with the edge pieces. I always start with the simple or quick bits of a project first, which gives me a little rush of success to continue on.
3) Triage: This term refers to the medical practice of prioritizing critical patients over less serious cases (gunshot wounds over sniffles). Determine whether there are tasks that need to be done sooner than others, and take care of them first.
4) Second Opinion: When I get stuck or frustrated, I often ask a third party to look at my progress. They may or may not have any helpful suggestions, but I find that at the very least, explaining my process to someone else can help me find a solution.
Small victories combined become larger ones. Don't get overwhelmed!