How to tackle big problems (hint: take small bites)

We learn how to tackle big problems by breaking them down into small, bite-size chunks. It’s like eating an aeroplane. One bite at a time.

Tackle big problems: small baby looking at giant cupcake

You probably haven’t heard of Michel Lotito. His nickname of ‘Monsieur Mangetout’ probably won’t help either. Ok, I’ll tell you. Michel Lotito is a man who ate an entire aeroplane. A Cessna 150 to be precise. Eating a plane is a lesson in how to tackle big problems.

If you want to gauge just how big a problem Lotito faced, here’s a picture of a Cessna 150 next to a tent. Let’s just say this isn’t a snack-size aeroplane.

Tackle big problems : Cessna 150

If you want to eat a Cessna 150 (or tackle any big problem), first break it down into small pieces.

Divide and conquer

What’s this got to do with how you tackle big problems?

Well, the point is that Lotito broke the plane down bit by bit. He ground it up to make relish; he mashed it up to make burgers; he liquidised it to make drinks; he used vegetable oil to lubricate his throat.

While we don’t recommend a plane diet, we do recommend his approach to mammoth tasks.

When faced with a daunting project break it down into chunks of different sizes and varieties.

For example, if you are writing an article you can split it into:

  • Ideation
  • Research
  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Publication

As you begin to tick off these tasks the once mammoth project seems increasingly easy.

At our sister company, Articulate Marketing, we use pair-writing to further divide up an assignment. One project between two people goes a lot quicker.

If you can’t see the wood for the trees your end product won’t be up to scratch and the chances of burnout will be much greater too.

Time management in chunks

This bite-size approach also works for time management. The Pomodoro technique breaks the working day into manageable periods. It turns a marathon into a series of sprints.

Short bursts throughout the day will lead to a more intense spell of work with greater results. Try and face eight hours all in one go and you’ll soon find you’re labouring on without getting anything done, and getting nowhere fast with your mammoth to-do list.

(Hat tip to Alexsander Markin for the photo)

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