Using the Principle of Incrementalism

Have you even been overwhelmed at the thought of trying to complete a large task?  This could include anything from cleaning out the garage after years of storing all those nick nacks. . . to getting a new website or blog launched, or how about one of those other big business launches you’re in charge of?  So often we can feel so overwhelmed by the scope of a project, it’s hard to envision the job completed – at least not with any ease. And then we can get a bit frozen, which then leads to procrastination and getting behind.  Then we end up feeling guilty or even more overwhelmed!

Over the years I’ve come to note that by devoting just 10 minutes a day (okay, well sometimes it’s 20 minutes) to that type of project, it gets done, little by little, a day at a time.  Think of what it must’ve took to build those pyramids in Egypt!  Bit by bit, stone by stone for sure!  Yet someone had the vision and knew it could be done.  How many years it took we may not know, but we see an awesome finished product today (actually more than one!).

So personally, I’ve come to call this “stone by stone” phenomena the Principle of Incrementalism, and I put it into practice every day.  When planning my daily schedule, I look at the various projects on my plate, and then ask myself, “What can I get done today, and how many minutes is that likely to take?”  I often notice that the mini-tasks of a project actually take only 10-20 minutes each, so this confirms my view and keeps me motivated to continue working incrementally.

When I broke my ankle last year and had to do PT for months to get back to walking correctly, I found this concept encouraging. I had a lot of scar tissue to work through to regain my mobility, and it was rough and slow going.  However, I pushed myself to think about achieving one sixteenth of an inch progress in my mobility per day.  Add that up and it comes to one inch in a little over two weeks. Now one inch more range of movement in an ankle is huge!  Through being patient but devoted to exercising every day for just a bit, I was able to make that type of progress.  It was hard to see the improvement over just a day or two, but by the end of the month – wow what a difference!

Most of us would be challenged to set aside an hour a day for some projects, yet we can generally find those 10 minutes if we really are determined!  If you put this practice into action, you’ll probably find that things you previously were procrastinating start getting done.  This concept can be a business manager’s blessing if you have someone on your team struggling to get things done!  So why not try this out, and if it works for you, pass it on to those on your team who could use some “completions” you’ve been waiting for!


This content is provided courtesy of Marie Moran’s Biz Savvy blog. To see more of her personal insights, visit her blog at

©2018 Marie Moran