As a project manager/project lead/delivery manager, I often have to help people break projects down into small tasks that can be accomplished. To do this, I follow these rules:

Stick to the 15-Minute Rule

Organize your workday into 15-minute chunks if you work a typical eight-hour workday that gives you 32, 15-minute chunks. The reason why 15-minute pieces are so helpful is that it’s long enough to get something done and short enough to find in your day.

Know When You’re Done

Continuing to spend your effort working on something that is primarily complete is a significant waste of time that you probably aren’t even aware that you are doing. When you are working on a task, you need to ask yourself, “When am I done?” For instance, if you are reading a non-fiction book, you’re done once you’ve learned something from the author that you didn’t know before.

Identify Verbs that Need Attention

Organize your to-do list around verbs like call, draft, prepare, schedule, review. These kinds of tasks are generally ones that you can complete in a single sitting, and that will help to move your larger projects forward. If you have big-picture verbs on your list, like a plan, discuss, create, and implement, try to replace them with actionable steps that will break down your more massive project into more manageable tasks.

Breaking down the large into the small is one of the critical skills with my clients. Do you need a sounding board to do this? Email me at and we will talk.