Big task or small task first?

Common productivity tips say you should deal with the big task first but we must consider the momentum given by completing a smaller task...

Posted on May 27, 2017 · 2 min read

For sure many of us have read or listened to a lot of productivity advice from the tons of resources, such as posts, books and so on that are available out there and sometimes we find ourselves with the following kind of advice:

You should first deal with the biggest and most important task on your list and leave for later the less important smaller ones.

Do you agree with that?

We should really consider if that works for us.

Let’s see some reasons why we would rather choose to think and act differently.


Let’s put the example where this one developer has a lot of work to take care of:

  • 1 big project
  • 3 medium projects
  • 3 small tasks

Yeah.. sounds like this developer is not going to sleep very much this week. But let’s analyze.

With the above mindset the developer should choose to work on the big project because is the most important, most difficult and most appealing from an economic point of view.

The problem with doing the bigger thing first is that it will require that much dedication and focus for a long time that most probably the other 3 medium projects and 3 smaller tasks will be abandoned for a long while until enough progress will be done with the big project.


Now I'm not saying that you should focus only on the smaller tasks and leave the big one for the end, because this way you’ll also end up in trouble because you never deliver the big project.

What needs to be considered is the momentum and motivation that having something completed will provide to your mental health every time you finish a smaller task.

It all boils down to breaking big projects into smaller tasks.

Probably the best way to think is that we should always try our best at breaking the big projects into smaller more doable in a short time tasks.

Indeed breaking projects into smaller pieces and prioritizing them could be one of the most valued skills of a person.

What do you think? Would love to hear your feedback! Specially regarding working on multiple big, medium and small projects at the same time and progressing in parallel with all of them.

This article was originally posted at HeavyDots Blog