How to Bite Off Only as Much as You Can Chew

How to Bite Off Only as Much as You Can Chew by Dallas Travers

So, you’ve figured out your goals. You’ve got your to-do list down. Your ducks are in a row. But you feel overwhelmed. Or you don’t know where to start. And you freeze.

Sound familiar?

Well, let me suggest a genius tool I’ve discovered courtesy of Sark, author and creator of the well-known How to be an Artist poster.

Sark talks candidly in her book, The Bodacious Book of Succulence, about how she got all 11 of her books written and her company started using a get-it-done formula she calls “micromovements”.

It’s a brilliant way to break your big goals down into tiny little steps that are much easier to accomplish. Let me walk you through it…

1. Break it down – way down

Sark suggests breaking the bigger actions down into small, bite size actions that last only 5 seconds to 5 minutes to do. It can’t take longer than that to qualify as a micromovement. If it’s too long, break it down further so the steps don’t exceed the 5 minute limit.

For example, if your goal is to write a web series, the initial micromovement might be to watch some other web series. But first you need to decide which one you will watch and exactly when.

So the initial micromovement would be to google ‘web series’.

Done. That’s it. Step away from the computer.

The next action might be to make a list of 5 series you admire. So you need to watch one series at a time for NO MORE than 5 minutes.

Get the picture?

2. Do something you already know how to do

A micromovement needs to be something you’ve done before and are familiar with. Otherwise, you might fall victim to resistance ranging from self-doubt, procrastination, or overwhelm.

Pick something you have knowledge or experience of. If you’ve never googled (yikes!) then that cannot be on your micromovement list of actions to make a web series.

Then, you may need to have a friend send you a link to their favorite series. So, your first micromovement would be to email your friend and ask them to send you the link.

Check! Moving on.

3. Hyper-schedule each micromovement

The secret to ensuring you actually take each micromovement is scheduling. Mark each micromovement on your calendar on a specific date and time.

Now, don’t beat yourself up if you miss an appointment or fall off track. Instead, “gently reschedule it”, as Sark says. Micromovements are meant to be helpful and guide you through the process of accomplishing big things. So don’t sweat it if you miss the appointment. Just write down a new date and time and try to stick to it.

4. Practice Imperfection

This system takes practice and you must be willing to fail at it. However, according to Sark, making micromovements will help you learn the power of completion.

Each step takes only 5 seconds to 5 minutes to complete. That means you’ll spend most of your time actually getting stuff done. What a great way to grow your confidence and accomplish even more in the long run.

As Sark says herself, “All of my 11 published books, posters, cards, and company exist due to many thousands and thousands of micromovements all strung together. I think of the micromovements as tiny colored beads that have helped me be someone who lives in her dreams instead of only talking about them.”

Now, it’s time for you to accomplish all of your career goals. The first step is just one micromovement. From there, you’ll continue to rock your to-do list like never before.

Don’t forget to check out all things Sark at

What’s your first micromovement? Let me know in the comments below.


9 Responses to “How to Bite Off Only as Much as You Can Chew”

  1. Matthew Floyd Miller says:

    Writing the first sentence of my Rep Race email list of agents for you to peruse Dallas!

    love this post. Very helpful for the ‘Prone to Overwhelm’.

  2. Dawn Davis says:

    First, I love Sark! Second, this is timely – I moved at the beginning of the month and have been ‘being gentle with myself’, easing in to the new place getting my new rhythms down. Being the start of 3rd Qtr, I aslo need to take out my goal sheets and start to plan the 3rd Qtr attack! My first micro goal will be to print the blank goal sheets so I can begin to fill in the details~ Thank you!

  3. Sonia says:

    This is very timely for me too–just moved to he Big Apple! However, I could see the list-making and planning and picking of the micromovements taking up an entire day! I mean divide 12 hours by 5 minutes–that’s 144 tasks each day. I would love for this to work for me and can see it’s benefits…but how does one navigate not being overwhelmed by 144 tasks and making a to do list? Or does one not make a list…is it just a psychological tool?

  4. Ann says:

    Thank you! This is so timely for me, too! I had already decided that this would be the quarter for me to finish all those unfinished projects around my apartment, cluttering up my space and clogging the flow of creative energy. This week I’ve already taken steps to finish a sewing project that’s been lying around for over a year. (Yep, a sewing project.) I’ve got a list of partially completed sewing and knitting projects, office, financial record-keeping and actor marketing projects, and updates to my website and blog – not to mention the unfinished plays and abandoned screenplays. Yikes! Sark’s wisdom is reinforcement for my baby steps, which I will henceforth call microsteps. Thanks again.

  5. Michele says:

    This is PERFECT timing, Dallas! I’ve decided to relocate to LA and am overwhelmed with all the “stuff” I need to do to shift my career from NYC to LA. This is just what I needed. I have the big picture — I need the micromovements. And I love Sark! xxxxx

  6. Sheilah says:

    Awesome post Dallas! Scheduling morning time to actually read it, I just realized is a micromovement for me on my journey to getting better organized…wow! As Dawn stated, this is indeed a timely post. Thank you for sharing :-)

  7. I have a quick question about this method.

    I often find that list-making does help me get focused on my goals for the day/week. However, often times I find that there are so many things to do, that the list-making task itself becomes so time-consuming that I feel it delays my actual execution of the things on the list.

    I imagine this list-making would be even more laborious if every “micromovement” has to be listed as well. Any advice on how to avoid getting bogged down even before we start? Thank you!!!

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