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How to effectively breakdown large tasks

Friday July 28, 2023
How to effectively breakdown large tasks

Following on from our last post on the technology stack behind, I thought it would be beneficial to share some practical tips on how to effectively break down large tasks. This is a skill that I've found to be incredibly useful in both my personal and professional life. It's also a skill that I've found to be particularly useful when using to manage my tasks, so read on for some productivity tips!

In every aspect of our lives, from professional responsibilities to personal projects, we frequently encounter sizable tasks that might feel overwhelming. However, the secret to successfully accomplishing such tasks is deconstructing them into manageable chunks. This blog post will delve into the techniques you can adopt to break down large tasks effectively and how dypt can help.


Understanding the Whole Task

Before dividing a task into smaller segments, it's crucial to comprehend the entire task. Understanding the full scope will equip you with the insights needed to accurately and effectively dissect the task.

Define the Outcome

Start by considering what the desired outcome or end goal is. What are you trying to achieve? Having a clear vision of your end goal not only guides you in the breaking down of the task, but it can also serve as a source of motivation when you start working on the task.

Knowing what you are trying to achieve can help you frame each subtask you create into a step towards the final goal. If a subtask doesn't move you towards the desired outcome, it very likely isn't necessary.

Identify the Task

Now that you know what you are trying to achieve, the next step is to clearly identify what the task is. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of the task's parameters (inputs) and requirements. This could mean reading through a project brief carefully, or it might entail doing some preliminary research about the task at hand. Understanding the task completely allows you to be better prepared to face it.

Breaking It Down Into Smaller Tasks

A sizeable task can feel daunting, but it becomes much more manageable when broken down into smaller, digestible parts. This is the entire ethos of dypt, which is designed to make breaking down any task into subtasks a breeze.

Divide and Conquer

To tackle the task, you need to subdivide it into smaller tasks or subtasks. Each subtask should be a step towards the completion of the whole task. This 'divide and conquer' strategy helps transform the overwhelming feeling that often accompanies large tasks into more manageable emotions associated with smaller tasks.

Any given task can be broken down again and again until you reach a level that feels manageable. For example, if your task is to write a book, you can break it down into subtasks such as writing the first chapter, writing the second chapter, and so on. You can then break down each chapter into subtasks such as writing the first paragraph, writing the second paragraph, and so on.

Eventually you will reach a level that allows you to keep going, and consistency is ultimately the most important outcome. If you can keep going, you will eventually reach your goal, no matter how many steps it takes along the way.

Make a List

Once you've divided your task into subtasks, list these down. Having a visual representation of all the steps it takes to complete the full task can make it seem less intimidating. A list also provides the satisfaction of physically crossing off completed tasks, which can be a great motivator!

dypt allows you do this easily. Just click on a task and you'll be taken to it's details page. Here you can add subtasks and check them off as you complete them. Once you've checked off all the subtasks, the overall task will be marked as complete. Think of it as a cascading pyramid of tasks whereby your overall task sits at the top and all the subtasks sit below it at various levels.

Let dypt help

dypt's AI features can help you with the dividing part. It will suggest subtasks based on the task title and description. You can then edit (or delete) any of the suggestions. This is a great way to get started with breaking down your task and get you moving towards your goal.

I like to start my breakdown process by first utilising the ai support and then I make edits and refinements to get to a set of subtasks that works best for me.

Using this feature is simple, just click the tasks menu icon, select 'Use AI' and then 'Suggest Subtasks'. The ai will take a few moments to think and then take you to the tasks details page which will now be populated with suggestions.

Prioritizing the Tasks

Now that you've divided the task into more manageable parts, the next step is to prioritize these parts. Not all subtasks are created equal! Some may be more critical than others in achieving the overall goal.

Determine Importance

Consider the overall importance of each subtask. Which ones have the most significant impact on the final outcome? Which subtasks are prerequisites for others? These should be your top priorities.

I like to use the dypt priority feature to assign a low, mid, or high priority level to each subtask. This allows me to quickly see which subtasks are the most important and which ones can be left until later. I can then sort in descending order of priority and work my way down the list.

Evaluate Urgency

In addition to considering importance, evaluate the urgency of each subtask. Are there any subtasks that need to be completed before others? If that's the case, it's probably best to move that subtask to be a child of the task that is dependent on it. That way, you can easily see which subtasks need to be completed before others.

Are there deadlines to consider? Subtasks with impending deadlines should also be high on your priority list, dypt makes this easy, we'll cover this in the next section.

Creating a Schedule

Developing a schedule aids in effective time management. It also keeps you accountable and provides a structure to follow, which can be especially helpful for large tasks that may span over extended periods.

Set Deadlines

For each subtask you've identified, assign a reasonable deadline. Deadlines can keep you on track and promote a sense of urgency, reducing the chance of procrastination.

If you don't have obvious deadlines, you can create your own based on the priority levels you set in the prior step. Those with a higher priority, logically should have a shorter deadline than those with a lower priority.

dypt makes this easy, just click on the menu icon for the subtask and select the deadline option. You'll be able to select from several handy helpers (e.g. end of tomorrow) or specify a custom date and time.

Once you've assigned a deadline to a task, you'll be able to find it in the dypt calendar. This is a great way to see all your upcoming deadlines in one place, in an order that makes sense to complete your goals effectively.

Allow for Flexibility

Despite the importance of keeping a schedule, it's equally crucial to allow for flexibility. Unexpected situations will inevitably arise, subtasks may take longer than initially planned, or new tasks might be identified. It's essential to be adaptable and adjust your schedule when necessary.

Build in a small amount of buffer time into each task to allow for unexpected delays. This will help you stay on track even if you encounter setbacks along the way. Missing deadlines can also serve as a demotivator, so it's best to set yourself up for success from the outset and be realistic about what you can achieve.

Managing Your Time Effectively

Effective time management is the key to successfully accomplishing large tasks. It ensures you are maximizing your productivity while also maintaining a balanced and healthy work routine.

Once you've set your priorities and deadlines, it's time to get disciplined and get to work. Here are some tips to help you manage your time effectively.

Avoid Multitasking

While it may seem like you're getting more done, multitasking can often lead to decreased productivity. By focusing on one task at a time, you'll be able to complete it more efficiently and effectively before moving on to the next one.

Eliminate Distractions

Lock yourself away in a quiet room, turn off your phone, and close all unnecessary tabs on your computer. Distractions can be detrimental to your productivity, so it's best to eliminate them as much as possible.

If you can't turn your devices off entirely, most modern laptops and phones now include a 'focus' mode that minimises notifications and distractions. I find this to be a great way to stay focused on the task at hand.

Take Breaks

Contrary to common perception, taking regular breaks can boost your productivity and creativity. Breaks provide an opportunity for your mind to relax and recharge, thereby increasing your focus and effectiveness when you return to work.

Staying Motivated

Maintaining motivation throughout the entirety of a large task can be challenging, particularly for long-term projects. However, there are strategies to help you stay motivated.

Celebrate Small Wins

Each subtask you complete is a step closer to achieving your goals. Celebrate these small victories! Recognizing your progress along the way can help boost your morale and keep you motivated. Revel in ticking off those subtasks, make each completion an occasion and reward yourself with a small treat of some form. You deserve it!

Stay Positive

Maintaining a positive attitude is vital. There will no doubt be setbacks along the way, but remember, progress is made one step at a time. With each step forward, you are closer to your end goal than before. Keep your eye on the prize and stay positive!

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that breaks down work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This technique can help you stay focused and motivated, as you know you only have to work for a short period before you can take a break. It's well proven to help keep you going and is a great way to stay motivated.

Further reading

If you're interested in learning more about breaking down large tasks, here are some great resources that I've found compelling and helpful over the years. There are no referral links, just quality resources!

  1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen - A comprehensive system for managing tasks, both large and small, to enhance productivity and reduce stress.

  2. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy - Practical advice on how to effectively manage your tasks and time.

  3. The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo - A time-management method to help manage work periods and break times, to improve productivity and maintain motivation. The link includes an overview about this time honoured technique and a link to a helpful timer app.

  4. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport - Provides strategies for staying focused and removing distractions to enhance productivity.

  5. Trello's Blog on Task Management - A plethora of articles on how to effectively manage tasks.

  6. Zenkit's Blog - Excellent resource for exploring best practices and tips in task management.

  7. Todoist Blog - Shares productivity tips, team collaboration, and task management techniques.


Breaking down large tasks into smaller, manageable parts is an effective strategy that can transform any intimidating task into something more achievable.

By comprehending the full task, identifying subtasks, prioritizing, scheduling, managing your time effectively, and maintaining motivation, you're set to conquer any task, no matter how large it may initially seem.

The good news is that can help you with all of this. It's a free tool that makes breaking down tasks incredibly simple. It's also a great way to keep track of your progress and stay motivated. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Until next time friends,

Dane ❤️

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