A major source of stress in our lives comes from the feeling that we have an impossible number of things to do.
We’ll often take an objective and pull it apart into a million pieces or tie it all together into one abstract whole. For example, if you take on a project and try to do the whole thing all at once (i.e., eat the whole whale in one bite), you’re going to be overwhelmed. Similarly, if you take a task and break it into too many small steps, it’s equally overwhelming, daunting and frustrating.
Most people can only focus on a limited number of things at one time. When most people are learning, they tend to remember things that are grouped into three’s. In fact, how do most people count? One, two, three…many! Anything above three things becomes too much for us to remember. In other words, most people tend to get overwhelmed after three difference pieces—or chunks—of information.
The number-one skill that will allow you to succeed at anything (while minimizing stress) is the ability to take a variety of action items and group them together, orienting them toward a common intention and result. This is called “chunking.” Simply put, chunking is the process of turning more into less!
Chunking: Grouping together information into ideally sized pieces, so they can be used effectively to produce the outcome you want without stress or shutdown.
For example, suppose this is your list of to-dos for your day:
- Go running
- Pick up dry cleaning
- Prep for board meeting
- Take dog to vet
- Buy running shoes
- Call my wife
- Lift weights
- Call my daughter
- Meet with marketing director
Three of these action items (go running, buy running shoes and lift weights) relate to physical health or activity. Group them together, and now you’ve “chunked” them into one clear result you desire: to improve your health.
When you start thinking of your to-dos as clusters of desired outcomes, you’ll keep stress at bay and learn to focus on your greater goals—rather than getting overwhelmed by the minutiae. And for that huge, amorphous target, simply put the process in reverse: Write down your actionable steps, assembling them in doable chunks.
This shift in thinking will make you work smarter and more effectively, and achieve success through skyhigh productivity. You’ll start to feel inspired—rather than forced—to follow through!
“No matter how successful you are, no matter how many great things are going on in your life, there’s always something that you can improve upon in your life. Tony Robbins can help you do that. He gives you the tools you need.”
—Brett Ratner, Action Film Director, X-Men, Rush Hour
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