9/09/2008

Increase your level of effectiveness using the incremental piddlism method

The other day I was helping out a friend who chose me as a subject to interview for her final class paper and project. The paper she has to put together is to be 40 pages long according to her professor's requirement. This friend is a self-proclaimed procrastinator who has a difficult time starting projects prior to deadlines. After our meeting I reminded her of the need to allocate an hour a day, each day to researching and writing her paper, to equal a full 7 hours of dedicated, focused, work on her project.

These 7 hours, when broken up into smaller bite sized pieces, would make her life so much easier. It was then that she introduced me to the official label to this type of activity. She called it incremental piddlism. Her professor coined the phrase. He shared with his students examples of how he was able to accomplish what seemed like large daunting tasks with the greatest of ease using incremental piddlism. One example he shared with the class was of his need to move several dozen boxes worth of materials,and books to a new office location. While the rest of his counterparts went about their way focusing on the cares of the day, the professor took one box with him every single work day, to his new office area. Day after day, he remained consistent, moving one box at a time, as he left for the day.

The time eventually came when the professor's counterparts realized that they had to spend a large, unproductive, part of their days laboring to move their belongings over to the new office prior to the impeding deadline. When they all realized that the professor had already completed the move, they could hardly believe it. They asked him how it was done. They asked him when he had the time to do it. His response was simply that he moved one box each day until all of his belongings were in his new office. As a result, the professor was able to continue his work without experiencing any gap in his productivity.

Piddling is defined as "of a small matter" or "of little importance." The act of moving one box of items each day was probably considered a small matter to him. But the end result of his efforts equated to the completion of a large and, most likely, overwhelming task.

I was excited when I found a name that described this behavior because now I can use the phrase as a means of motivation. As I think of the various large projects that I am avoiding 'till the very last minute, I reflect on the professor and how he was able to make a huge impact by implementing simple, consistent, daily efforts. I then begin to ask myself what "box" I can move on a daily basis, that will allow me to complete my project. As I move those boxes consistently, I find that the project I had been dreading can be easily managed and conquered.

In the end, I save my self a ton of time, stress, and energy. Not only that, because, I am touching the project every day, I have the time to put more thought into tomorrow's portion of the project based on what I accomplished today. If, I were to try to do the entire planning, preparation, and execution piece in one or two sittings, I put myself in a position where I am likely to produce inferior quality work.

So today, my friends, I invite you to think about your goals, projects, and intentions. How can you piddle incrementally, on a daily basis, in order to make a huge impact on the results? Put some time and thought into this and immediately set aside an hour, or half hour,on a daily basis to piddle away. You can be be like Bob Proctor, who is said to have worked on a book for 1 minute each day for 365 days.
You will be amazed at how much you can get accomplished with this focused time.

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