The Atomic Approach Isn’t Just for Essays, it’s a Design for Life for Anyone Who Feels Overwhelmed
“How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time.”
In my early career, this phrase stumped me. Why would you want to eat an elephant anyways I would [jokingly] think!?
But soon it dawned on me.
At work or in life we often take on big projects. Buying a house. Launching a new product. Planning an event. Writing a book.
Such large projects could overwhelmed a person.
They need to be broken down.
It’s time to go Atomic.
You can’t get smaller than an atom.
The atom is the smallest particle of a chemical element that can exist. When a friend recently introduced me to the idea of these Atomic Essays, I was immediately hooked. You see, I’ve encountered the Atomic approach before.
In Product Design, Brad Frost introduced the design world to the idea of Atomic Design methodology.
Atoms are the basic building blocks of matter. Applied to web interfaces, atoms are our HTML tags, such as a form label, an input or a button. Atoms can also include more abstract elements like color palettes, fonts and even more invisible aspects of an interface like animations.
On their own the elements may not be too useful, but build them up systematically and together they create the websites and apps we are all used to using today.
James Clear introduced us to the idea of Atomic Habits. He suggests that to get better at something we should strive to be 1% better everyday, rather than focusing on a large self-improvement goal. This is more achievable in the short-term, but has long term gains:
If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.
- James Clear
So the lesson is clear.
Don’t take on too much at once. Break it down. Live life one bite at a time.
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