Cool Chunking Tricks Shorten Your To Do List & Save You Time


Feeling overwhelmed? Is your to do list is so long, you don’t know where to start? Quite common these days and not just for aspiring entrepreneurs starting an online business.


In my quest for more focus and efficient work habits, I came across Tim Feriss’s (4 Hour Work Week) blog where he quotes a conversation with business magnate Sir Richard Branson on productivity. What is his productivity secret?


Drum roll…..


Here it is…..


working out!



Granted, you may feel a little shorthanded with that tip. I know I did. I mean, I understand how getting out and pumping some iron or sweating to the oldies can get your brain working, your blood charging, your arteries flexing, and boost your overall well-being. But still. For most of us, there’s a little voice that cuts in and asks: how will a healthy heart rate get my customer service, SEO and posting done, never mind the laundry, the soccer games and feeding the kids and Rover?


Try Chunking


Well if you’re having a hard time swallowing the work-out technique and you want to try something a little more hands-on, here’s one called chunking that many productive souls are using to tackle their to-do list and free-up some precious time from their busy day.


One soul in particular is Anthony Robbins. As explained on the Time Management Techniques blog, Robbins’s chunking technique reduces a long list of to do items to a few, by “chunking” related tasks together.


Time Management Techniques selected a great example of this chunking process: 

Using the example from the Tony Robbins RPM overview page:

  1. Buy dog food
  2. Buy cell phone for daughter
  3. Wash and fold laundry
  4. Prepare for meeting with CFO
  5. Review draft of 2008 Tax Return
  6. Drop off daughter at gymnastics
  7. Drop off son at soccer practice
  8. Create training plan for running group
  9. Run 6 miles in target heart zone
  10. Pick up daughter from gymnastics
  11. Pick up son from soccer practice

How could we begin chunking these together into related items?

  • Prepare for meeting with CFO and Review draft of tax return go together
  • Create training plan for running group and run 6 miles go together
  • Dropping off and picking up children go together
  • Buying dog food, cell phone, and washing and folding laundry all seem related to the house and family and can be grouped together

See how that works? By grouping related tasks together, your list is reduced by half or more and now seems very doable. Also, chunking like-minded chores, in many cases will reduce rework and time as is evident with point 8 & 9 (running group planning and running 6 miles).


But, you don’t necessarily need to attack chunked tasks at the same time. Rather, chunking makes it easier to organize them.


Take the last two chunks on the above list of dropping off and picking up the kids and the series of home-related chores.  You could easily combine any outside the home chores like buying dog food and a cell phone with driving the children. And complete the in-home task of doing laundry in the evening. Easily organized when tasks are chunked, but less so in the long to-do list version.


If however chunking doesn’t seem enough to simplify and shorten your list, you may just have to take it a step further.


Day & Time Chunking

On Smart Blog, we find how two successful business owners chunk their tasks into days and specific time frames:

[Jane] Applegate [producer of the Applegate Group] said that when she was working from home, she started dividing her days into “in days” and “out days” to make the most of her time and not waste it driving around or shifting from task to task.

On the in days, she would hunker down, not leave the house and work hard. Out days would be packed to the brim with errands, meetings and other activities that had to be done out of the house.

Use “time chunking” — setting aside chunks of time for completing specific tasks to get everything done, advised Lena West, founder, CEO and chief strategist of Influence Expansion. She designates each day of the week for a specific type of activity and sticks to it.


So, not only can you shorten your list by chunking related tasks together, but you can also increase efficiency by chunking specific work into certain days and time periods, depending on your productivity levels and your schedule.


And the great thing is these productivity tips apply just as easily at home as at work. So, you can adopt them anywhere in your life and free up some valuable time (and gain some sanity) all the while knowing that the important things are getting done!


The only problem you may end up with is deciding what to do with your newly acquired free time. May I suggest dusting off your running shoes and joining Richard Branson at the gym? I hear it does wonders for productivity…


So what are your thoughts? Do you use some of these chunking techniques? What are your results? Any other tips to add? Leave a comment.


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One Response to Cool Chunking Tricks Shorten Your To Do List & Save You Time

  1. […] constant communication and task management, it’s not difficult to want to throw your smartphone down a well. The key is to pace yourself […]