Merge's Blog

Trouble overcoming procrastination? Use “the salami technique”

Earlier in this series on productivity tools for leaders, I offered a few ideas on overcoming procrastination.  Specifically, in strategies #7, #8 and #9, I discussed “going public”, using the Zeigarnik Effect, and schedule unappealing tasks 25-minute blocks. Today, I have another approach to share with you, one that I’ve used quite successfully myself in overcoming procrastination.  I call it “the salami technique”.

The “salami technique” is a great tool for overcoming procrastination

I find this tool particularly useful when the task seems really big or overwhelming and for that reason I seem to lack direction.  Now I know that the name sounds a little odd but it refers to the fact that salami, as a roll, is decidedly unappetizing.  I mean, you wouldn’t slap a roll of salami on to your sandwich.  But once you thinly slice the salami and pile the slices on to your sandwich, it suddenly becomes much more enticing and tempting.

In the same way, if you take your overwhelming and decidedly unappetizing task or project and slice it into smaller and smaller pieces by function or time, you will find that it will become easier to handle, or more interesting to start with, or you’ll be able to visualize the end result more clearly.  So take that big to-do item on your list, the one that’s been staring at you for a while, and break it down.  If it’s a proposal that you need to send to a client, don’t look at it in its totality; instead look at it in pieces.  Do the technical specs one day, the staffing schedule on another, and the fee schedule on a third day. By “slicing” the task into smaller pieces, you’ll find that it isn’t as big or overwhelming or as uninteresting as you thought.

So the salami technique is – slice it up! It works!  Some of my other recent posts in this series are:

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