How to Break Down Projects for Optimal Productivity


Are you dreading the process of starting a big project? You aren’t alone.

Big projects are overwhelming, and this sometimes causes us to avoid them at all cost. The idea of working on them is dreadful because we assume the work will be a long, painful process. This is why it’s so important to break down projects.

When you break down projects, you’ll start to see a clear roadmap of each step needed to complete the project. This will ease your conscious because the process is probably simpler than you originally thought.

Now the trick is to break down projects in a way that encourages your productivity. Everyone’s productivity is different, so you have to find the method that works best for you.

Here are a few ways you can break down projects for optimal productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique was created by Francesco Cirillo, who named the technique after his tomato-shaped timer. This method involved the following process:

• Break up your work into 25-minute segments
• Each segment is followed by a 5-minute break
• Take a 15-20 minute break after four segments

This method relies on the theory that energy, motivation and focus decrease as the day goes on. It’s impossible to work consistently for a long period of time without taking a break. By using the Pomodoro technique, you will break down your work into small increments so you can get more done and take breaks.

You can alter this method to whatever works best for you. You might find you work well for 40 minutes instead of 25. Just remember to break your work into small chunks.

Scrum Scheduling

Another method for breaking down projects is scrum scheduling. This process involves breaking down goals into iterations, and then scheduling them out for optimal productivity.
Making a scrum schedule forces you to break down the project and schedule each task in different time slots. Not only are you creating actionable steps for completing the project, but you’re also planning when those steps will be completed. You can also use a scrum board to help visualize these iterations and your progress of finishing each one.

Work Breakdown Structure

A work breakdown structure breaks down the entire process of your project and gives actionable steps to completing the project. It gives your entire team the scope of what needs to be done.

The work breakdown structure is made of these four components:

1. Statement of work
2. Phases
3. Deliverables
4. Tasks

The statement of work is a sentence that describes the vision of the project. This is important for breaking it down into steps. The phases are when you actually start to break down the project. These are broad tasks you know you’ll have to complete to finish the project.

Deliverables are more specific tasks for each phase. Now you’re starting to get more detailed and specific with what exactly needs to be done. The tasks are assigned to each deliverable. These are the smallest steps that are required to complete a deliverable.
By using this method, you’ve completely broken the project down into small, actionable steps. You have mapped out the entire process so you know exactly what needs to be done at all levels of the project.

Kanban Board

Personal Kanban is a method that combines the actionable steps of a to-do list with a visually appealing board that let you see your progress.

The Kanban Board should be split up into three vertical columns:

Backlog/To-Do, Doing and Done.

The Backlog column is where you put tasks you haven’t started working on yet but you have to at some point. The Doing column has tasks you are currently in the process of doing. The Done column consists of every completed task. There is nothing better than glancing at the board and seeing all the tasks you’re done with.

This is a great way to break up your work if you respond well to visual cues. The feeling of picking up a post-it note and moving it to the next column is very rewarding. It’ll also force you to break down the project into small, actionable steps that fit on a post-it.
Start Planning

These four methods are all you need to know to break down your project for optimal productivity. Now start breaking everything down and planning the project.

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and marketer. She writes about happiness, productivity and career advice on her blog, Punched Clocks. Want more great tips from Sarah? Subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on social media.

Photo Credit: Workshop Exploring Agile Project Parameters by Improve it Via Flickr