Step-by-step mindset: work smart not hard

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How many times have you felt burnout after a hard day, sometimes even without completing planned tasks? It happened to me often. I mostly managed to do planned items, but still, in the evening and the following day, I felt fatigued. It drained out my motivation to move onto the next challenge.

I decided to analyze what is the cause of burnout so I can prevent it in the future. I tried to find a way to make the process of doing more efficient and healthier for me. The way I found helped me a lot at work and in my personal life.

Identified problem

Before I move onto my current working way, I would like to look at a problem that has caused me a feeling of burnout. It is no less and no more than a poorly defined goal. Example: I should do something pretty big, say learn 300 pages or prepare myself for an upcoming interview. The task I would set myself is exactly what I consider a mistake that is killing my productivity. Our brain has the habit of procrastinating, especially if it faces more difficult challenges, like in those cases. By putting a difficult task in front of us, we create a certain pressure because we don’t want to fail, and we are aware that it is not easy to achieve the desired goal. And this pressure costs us productivity.

Step-by-step mindset

In other words, we tend to make our tasks harder by the pressure that we are creating, which is purely on the psychological level. To avoid this, I started using something I called “step-by-step.” I break down each major task into several units categorized by priority. This way, my brain doesn’t see one difficult task, but several easier ones. And every time I did one of those tasks, I would get a sense of accomplishment, which would further motivate me to move onto the next one. It seems pretty simple, but it helped me eliminate that mentioned pressure and complete more items from my ToDo list.

I recommend you to be careful with breaking down a major task. It is bad to have a huge task, but it is also not a good practice to have many small ones because you will feel pressure, not from the task’s size but the number of tasks you need to do.

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