Stay in motion & make progress with parallel working

This week I’ve coached four people through progress blockers by helping them to work (and think) in multiple parallel streams towards the same end goal. One of them is a postgrad student working on a final report but she didn’t know where to start. I explained that each section is like a parallel stream which they should work on whenever they have something to write in it. We brainstormed a number of appendices she could complete right away and this unblocked her progress by staying in motion – one page at a time.

An advertising exec is developing their first online course in their spare time but struggling to make progress. I explained they should work on different parts depending on where its possible to make progress and what she feels motivated to do. If they hit obstacles in video editing they should jump back to updating the landing page. Or if she hits writer’s block on the script and outline, change tack and look for course images. Parallel streams of work keep any project alive so that a challenge in one area doesn’t derail everything else.

In another coaching call I helped a student think about getting through a large piece of analysis in his PhD. He learned to break it down into chunks of work, each with tasks that he could work on in parallel rather than be daunted by all the big tasks he has to get through. Another postgrad student was flustered by delays outside of her control, so I helped her pick 3 things that were in her control which she should do and tick off within the next week. This didn’t solve her other delays but it kept her going in the same direction.

Humans can’t literally multi-task, but we can keep different streams of work running in parallel. Don’t try to do too much in parallel or you will lose track but always have a choice that keeps you in motion. The best part of these coaching calls was the smiling emoji 😊 I got in reply to my follow up message, thanking me for the encouragement and advice that kept them in motion.

Think about your goals and break them down into separate, parallel tasks. If any of them get stuck then change tack to another one where you can make progress and stay in motion

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