‘Adam Savage on Lists, More Lists, and the Power of Checkboxes’
Adam Savage, of MythBusters fame, coming in clutch with a detailed view into how he manages projects with checklists:
I almost never begin at the beginning. Usually, I examine the subcategorized list and I look for the toughest nut to crack. The real ass-kicker of a problem. The one for which I have the most difficulty imagining a solution at first glance. Once I find it—in the case of the ray gun it would probably be fabrication of the top scope—that’s where I start. I do this for three reasons: (1) I don’t want to get caught out toward the end of a project with unexpected problem solving that takes way longer than I expected; (2) once I’ve cracked the tough problem, I’ve built a lot of momentum, and I’ve already slayed the beast that might kill my momentum later on; and (3) I like coasting to the finish with the easy stuff. It’s one of the ways I manage the stress of a project. Get the hard stuff out of the way first, then the specter of all those empty checkboxes becomes less intimidating, because the tasks get successively easier and the checkboxes get filled in just as quickly.
As a follow up to my task list concentration tactic, Adam’s is a strategy I desperately need to deploy. The rest of the article is worth reading through, but knocking down the biggest domino first is something I don’t do, but should. Typically I let it weigh on me until the situation reaches boiling point, and that’s a mental load I can’t bear any longer.