Have you heard the saying, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”? 

You probably have, and it makes good brain sense, too!

 Here’s why…

If you want to be more productive and successful in work, school, and life, it’s important you make consistent and tangible progress and achieve significant milestones along the way. Otherwise, you are just spinning your wheels, and that isn’t fun or an effective use of time.

Quite often, however, people find themselves excited about making positive life changes, learning a new skill, and attaining inspired goals.  Then suddenly they become stuck or overwhelmed by the actions required to achieve them.

Roles, responsibilities, and to-do lists take center stage, and everything else fades into the background.  The motivation that fueled the desire for new learning, growth, and change is lost.

What can you do to avoid this trap? A useful solution is ‘Brain-Chunking.’

What is Brain-Chunking?

  1. Taking individual pieces of information and grouping them into larger units. An example is chunking a phone number sequence of 4-1-6-0-0-0-1-2-3-4 into (416) 000-1234.
  2. Taking big ideas or projects and breaking them into smaller units. For example, studying for a final exam, and breaking the material into themes, chapters, and unit topics.
  3. Taking personal or professional goals and segmenting them into achievable steps and phases.  For example, for a vision of living/working abroad, start by researching locations and accommodations, interview other people who’ve done it, build your contacts and network in the desired area you want to travel to, clear up loose ends that would interfere with your leaving, source great luggage, practise your packing, and pick a genuinely realistic date to begin the actual move, etc.

These steps may seem boring and cause concern that you may get slowed down. However, as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” Anything worth achieving is worthy of your time, focus, and organization.


  1. IT’S ESSENTIAL – First and foremost, you can’t achieve a goal in one full sweep.  Anything worth moving towards usually has its own time, pace, and process. One step connects with the next; there is a beginning, middle and an end. You can’t skip over those fundamental stages and expect to achieve your goal or outcome.  
  2. EASIER LEARNING – When doing your homework, learning a new software program, or studying for a test, breaking up long strings of information into units or chunks allows you to focus your attention on smaller bits at a time which makes it less overwhelming and easier to digest.  
  3. BETTER MEMORY – Chunking makes a more efficient use of your short-term memory. By grouping information, the resulting chunks are easier to commit to memory than a longer, uninterrupted string of information. Some research suggests most people are capable of storing 7 units of information; more recent research has found that short-term memory has a capacity for about 4 chunks of information.
  4. GREATER CREATIVITY – The natural tendency of your human brain is to sift through information and look for patterns and associations. This is not just important for an easier and more efficient way to put it into memory; it is also the source of creativity.  As Steve Jobs once famously suggested, “Creativity is just connecting things.”  When you divide information into smaller chunks, you more easily move them around and play with them, rather than seeing them already pre-set in a larger framework. Here you are likely to find new and innovative ways of seeing and approaching your projects, outlining a story, writing a speech, or building your life.  
  5. MORE SUCCESSES – By chunking your learning, projects and memorization activity into chunks, you’ll have more frequent successes! Rather than waiting until an entire unit has been learned, a project has been completed, a goal has been attained, or a song/script has been memorized, you can gain confidence in the process of smaller portions being gradually accomplished, which in turn is leading you to the final result.
  6. LIFE ENJOYMENT – Life is a journey not a race.  The concept of chunking your learning, projects, and memorization allows you to savour each moment of each day as a unique and important part of the whole. By tuning into the smaller units of time, you are on a genuine learning curve.  In any given moment of any day, you can choose to do things differently, such as change your direction, outcomes, and results.

At the dawn of a new year, this is an ideal time to consider what you’d like to accomplish and then implement a strategy that will support you in achieving your goal(s).  

Consider using the brain-chunking method so that you don’t overwhelm yourself or get ahead of the process.  When it comes to your brain and creating new habits, repetition is essential.  Therefore, make sure you consider what is manageable and repeatable, because that is where you’ll take your plans and turn them into reality.

Most importantly, choose goals that truly inspire you. Your ability to ‘stay the course’ when things get boring or challenging will be fuelled by your desire to achieve the final result.

You’ve got this!