Life Goal Setting – Chunking vs Multi Tasking

by Ryan

I see life as the ability to accomplish anything you want, with very few exceptions. I could become the president, I could go be an astronaut, I could go make a billion dollars, heck I could even become a woman if I wanted (just checking if you’re still reading 😉 ). I’m a believer in the 10,000 hour rule and that you have an spend a significant amount of time on whatever goal you have in order to accomplish it. If you’re like me and believe that it takes a significant amount of time to achieve your life goals, what’s the best way to go about achieving these goals? Chunking or Multi Tasking?

Chunking

I may not have been the most clear by using the word “chunking” so what I mean by that is tackling each goal head on, one at a time. If you want to become a professional musician, you devote all day everyday to that cause and focus on that and only that. Everything you do relates to your goal and you eat breathe and sleep the life goal. Through chunking you’re giving your constent attention to one goal. As a result your life goals would be set in maybe 5 or 10 year “chunks” in which you focus one at a time.

I see chunking as a valuable strategy because it harnesses the power of focus and your goal literally becomes who you are. It seems that you can greatly increase your chances of achieving the life goal because you won’t have nearly as many distractions. However, chunking may not be best as some of your life goals may not be accomplished in 5-10 year chunks, but may take a whole lifetime to achieve. I’m a bit partial to chunking, and am using it a bit on some of my goals including my physical fitness and some financial goals, but see that it could cause a dilemma in which one wonders when the goal is actually achieved and if it is never achieved, when to cut bait and work on the next “chunk.”

Multi-Tasking

Say you have four major life goals. Instead of chunking them out into 10 year slots you could multi-task and spend 25% of your time (free time) on them. They most likely wouldn’t be accomplished nearly as quickly as if you were “chunking” your goals, but you would have more time to monitor and adapt their progression. However, you wouldn’t be as efficient, because like a factory assembly line you would have time changes and would need to refocus on each of your four goals rather than focusing on one. You’d most likely stretch yourself a bit thin if you choose too many, but at the same point you’d be giving each one a shot, whereas if you were chunking you might not be able to try each goal in your lifetime.

Multi-tasking seems to be the most popular when discussing goals. Maybe you spend certain times of the day or a certain day of the week working on your life goals, such as a triathlete that trains in the morning before heading off to work. Some goals, such as a triathlon may not require chunking since you can’t spend all day everyday training and actually need rest and recovery times. This may also hold true for using your subconscious mind to solve problems related to your current life goals.

What do you think?

If you have several large life goals, what’s the best way to achieve them? By tackling them one at a time via chunking or multi-tasking?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Barron April 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Glad to see you back!!

I always admire people who accomplish their goals by chunking. Making sacrifices that 90% of the population wouldn’t. Taking the risk of loosing everything and everyone to attain that goal. My sister is a chunker. Her goal was to become a doctor. She sacrificed her relationships with friends and family for med school and residency. She opened her practice 1 year after passing her boards.

Personally, I’m a multi-tasker. I start out chunking, but can’t make all the sacrifices. I like to live in the now. I’ll eventually get there if it was meant to be. So far my website has a different effect on me & I’m chunking. I struggle to turn the computer off and go to the grocery store…That reminds me. LOL
.-= Scott Barron´s last blog ..Blogging Advice: Create a Time Sheet =-.

Simple in France April 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I have some serious trouble multi-tasking. I get excited about one goal or activity and sort of ‘forget’ about other stuff. So basically, I have to make to do lists to remind myself that life is about more than my current obsession.

But, with my tunnel vision, I get a tremendous number of things done. I’m not sure it’s always a good thing, but it works for me.

Guy G. April 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Hey Ryan,

I think the 80-20 rule could apply here.
I believe Chunking is the best way to get the big tasks and goals accomplished, but you have to continue multitasking on the ‘have to dos’ that are less important or they build up and become ‘Oh Crap it’s already Monday’ tasks. :)

Thanks for the tips on budgeting time and for the reminder that I need to focus more time on the big stuff.

Final Answer – Chunking 80% and 20% to Multi-Tasking

Cheers,

Guy
.-= Guy G.´s last blog ..Grocery Saving Tips – Tips on Budgeting =-.

Noah Rainey April 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Chunking? What kind of terminology are you using lol? HAHA, great post man.
.-= Noah Rainey´s last blog ..How to Add a Logo to Your Thesis Theme =-.

Meghan Fife April 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Personally, I’m more a multi-tasker just because I enjoy moving around and doing different things. If I had to stick to only one thing for a very long period of time I might get bored. =)

BUT it can be frustrating because multi-tasking does take longer to reach the goal. For me, it’s worth it in most situations. Some situations not so much.

Right now, financially, I have 3 goals I am multi-tasking. I thought about chunking and trying to do it that way but haven’t tried it yet. Maybe I should run some numbers and see if that would work just as well.
.-= Meghan Fife´s last blog ..Goals Aren’t the End All =-.

Moon Hussain April 15, 2010 at 3:29 am

I think chunking was the way to go when I was younger. It was somehow easier. Now that ‘m older and greedy (i.e. I want to be great at 5 things, not just 1), multi-tasking has become the way to do that. Only I’m not so sure if it’s effective. We’ll have to see soon.
.-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Fun Friday Round-Up: Delicious Blog Chowder! =-.

Kiesha @ We Blog Better April 15, 2010 at 3:42 am

Hi Ryan!
Your presence was missed, but I understand, there’s still other things to attend to in life besides blogging.
I’m definitely a multitasker – I really have no choice – it’s either that or nothing would get done since I don’t have large chunks of to devote to anything. I’d love to be able to focus all of my attention on one thing, but I just don’t have the luxury right now. Maybe someday in my near future.
We’ll see… :)
.-= Kiesha @ We Blog Better´s last blog ..The Simplest Guest Post Contest Ever =-.

Kristine April 15, 2010 at 9:08 am

People who are chunkers are great visionaries. They do their activities that are centered on their ultimate goal. They remember the big picture and focus on it.

It’s good to have long term goals, medium term goals, and short term goals that all lead up to the ultimate life. Focus on the big picture, and you can realize your other life goals along the way.

LenciB: Falling Into favor April 15, 2010 at 10:35 am

Goodness, welcome back! 😀 I’m like Kristine above, with my goals. I would just steal her entire first paragraph! “Chunking” will become my new favorite word soon, lol.
.-= LenciB: Falling Into favor´s last blog ..His Gifts to all Alike =-.

Jeremy Johnson April 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm

If you’ve ever done software development, then the SCRUM technique for development may come to mind. It is focusing solely on the highest valuable areas for your business – and in this case personally. Chunking is like it and I’d say chunking all the way. By focusing solely on one thing at a time, you deliver the biggest value quickest (if you are doing the most valuable things first) – and you have the ability to react to change – be a homing missile so that you hit the ‘target’ more often.
.-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..Approach Motivation and Avoidance Motivation =-.

Jackie April 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I’m inclined to say chunking would probably be most effective, but I’m too much of a hummingbird (flitting from task to task) to really do that. So I’ll stick with the multi-tasking, although I try to at least only work on one goal per day.
.-= Jackie´s last blog ..How Much Does Our Culture Affect Recycling and Frugality? =-.

Bradley Gauthier April 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I base most of my life around the concept of chunking. There would be no way I could handle my goals if I didn’t take them day by day.

ps. I’ve been working on an article on chunking complex projects, you beat me to it :( haha
.-= Bradley Gauthier´s last blog ..Escaping the Crab Bucket =-.

Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey April 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Hi Ryan, I think that they both have their benefits. I think it depends on the goal. If it’s something that is a major goal that you want results sooner than later, then I think it’s definitely worth “chunking” and attacking after the goal in order to see results. If it’s a goal but it’s not something that you expect to accomplish soon, then it’s very much worth multi-tasking. Just my thoughts… Great post my friend. Thanks for sharing!!

Austin @ TheOrangePaper.com April 18, 2010 at 1:59 am

Hey Ryan,
Glad to see you back! I pretty much have the same view as Jarrod. Both have their own advantages — it all depends on the goals.

Once you have prioritized your listed goals one could segregate them between 2 categories:
(a) ‘adds to my income stream’ (e.g. writing a book; real estate development etc.)
(b) ‘I always wanted to do this’ (e.g. shark photography; painting etc.)

Chunking for the A’s & Multi-tasking for the B’s :)

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