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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

Chunking: Organizing Small to Create Big Change

Would you like to organize your space but can’t seem to get started? You are not alone. Many people view organizing as a daunting task. It’s simply more than they can handle. Here is where chunking comes in handy.


I first learned about chunking when speaking with my daughter’s therapist many years ago. My daughter has ADHD and her therapist was trying to help her with executive functioning, skills related to planning and organizing. At the time, my daughter was entering sixth grade and she was having trouble sitting down to do her more complex homework.


The therapist suggested breaking up her work into smaller steps. For example, she broke down my daughter’s essay assignment into 5 steps:

  1. Brainstorm ideas

  2. Write outline

  3. Write two paragraph essay body

  4. Write Intro & Conclusion

  5. Edit entire essay

Writing an essay seemed like a huge deal to my daughter, but doing each of these steps across a school week seemed attainable. And that, my friends, is chunking.

A great read!
"The only consistent sustainable way to grow big is to start small.”
-BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits


Here are some of examples of how you can apply chunking to organizing and productivity in your everyday life:

1. Understand that small steps can add up to a BIG IMPACT on your life.

Behavioral psychologist, BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, relates why small steps make a big difference: “Tiny allows you to get real with yourself and your life. Tiny allows you to start right now.” He adds “The only consistent sustainable way to grow big is to start small.”

2. Create a sense of Accomplishment:

Celebrate small things like putting “Get Dressed” on your daily to-do list so you can check it off. It feels great, right?

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3. Plan a task that is Possible:

The next time you have a task, plan only the next step instead of the entire series of steps. For example, when you receive an invitation in the mail, attach a sticky note that says, “Check calendar.” Calendar clear? Write the next step, “Buy a gift” and move forward with that. You can do this!

4. Make organizing Less Overwhelming:

Choose a small space (closet, bookshelf or desk) and write out each step in increments you can handle. Move forward with each step at a calm pace. Are you breathing? If not, you might want to learn the strategy of mantras.

What project are you avoiding right now? Chunk it and start making small step at a time.

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Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry

These are such excellent points. The problem is that 21st-century life leads us to feel like we need to rush headlong into accomplishing things (writing the essay before being contemplative about topics or outlining). There's a reason why "slow and steady wins the race" is a real thing, and taking each of these small, incremental steps, as you've indicated, is a better recipe for success...if we can just slow ourselves down.

Jill Katz
Jill Katz

Yes- "slow and steady" wins the race! My next blog post will actually be on a related theme...



Jill, this is great. I'm a big believer in chunking. This is the theory behind the deck of cards Jonda Beattie and I created called: Organize Your Home 10 Minutes at a Time.

I like the way you list the steps the therapist created for your daughter. Everything is so much easier when we break the large task down into its components.

Jill Katz
Jill Katz

I love that idea - a deck of cards with different 10-minute tasks. How creative!

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