a series of calendars and planners that illustrate using the chunking method to reach goals

Are you feeling overwhelmed by a big goal? Do you wonder how to tackle it effectively without losing your motivation?

On the Huberman Lab podcast, Dr. Andrew Huberman recommended the chunking method to help you stay motivated and reach your goals. This effective technique leverages the way your brain works.

Read on to get a summary of Huberman’s advice for chunking goals along with some application tips, context, and analysis.

The Chunking Method for Goals

Dr. Andrew Huberman, a champion of intrinsic motivation, highlighted the power of the chunking method when it comes to setting and achieving goals. Chunking goals involves breaking down daunting tasks into bite-sized, achievable segments. Imagine a four-day study schedule. By chunking it, you maintain motivation, which is crucial especially during the often-demoralizing “Wednesday slump.”


Chunking is incredibly powerful for both setting and achieving goals. Here’s how it works:

Setting goals:

  • Breaks down the big picture: Large, intimidating goals can feel overwhelming and paralyzing. Chunking helps you break them down into smaller, more manageable milestones. By defining these smaller steps, you gain a clearer roadmap and avoid feeling lost or overwhelmed.
  • Boosts motivation: Completing smaller, achievable tasks provides consistent wins and a sense of progress. This keeps you motivated and energized, preventing the initial excitement from fading before you reach the finish line.
  • Improves planning and organization: Chunking involves creating a step-by-step plan, forcing you to consider dependencies and identify potential roadblocks. This organized approach increases your chances of success.

Achieving goals:

  • Improves focus and clarity: Each chunked step becomes your immediate focus, eliminating distractions and keeping you present in the moment. This laser-sharp focus helps you avoid multitasking and complete each task efficiently.
  • Reduces procrastination: Smaller, less daunting tasks feel less intimidating, reducing the urge to procrastinate. You’re more likely to tackle them head-on, building momentum and preventing delays.
  • Provides feedback and adaptation: Each completed chunk offers valuable feedback on your progress, allowing you to adapt your approach if needed. By analyzing your progress on smaller steps, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Remember, chunking is a flexible tool. Tailor it to your specific goals and learning style. Experiment with different chunk sizes and timeframes to find what works best for you.


Ever struggle to remember a long string of numbers? Enter chunking, a memory superpower. This technique groups information into meaningful units. Imagine 12 random digits: daunting, right? Chunk them into birthdates (54/05/06 & 33/12/24), and voila—only two things! That’s why credit card numbers work the same way.

Barbara Oakley explains chunking in the context of learning: Everything you know is stored in “chunks.” This condenses and organizes information for smoother processing and long-term storage. So, what’s a chunk?

Physically, a chunk is a group of interconnected neurons firing together. Learning strengthens these connections. Oakley cites a study where experts showed distinct brain activity patterns compared to novices, reflecting chunk formation (working memory for novices, retrieval from long-term memory for experts).

Conceptually, a chunk is a group of interconnected ideas. Your brain seeks meaning, connecting new information to what you already know. The stronger the chunk, the more intuitive and space-efficient it becomes.

Think of learning to drive stick shift. Initially, each step (clutch, gear shift, RPMs) feels separate. But, once mastered, you effortlessly cruise in third gear without recalling individual actions. Your brain has chunked them into one intuitive unit.

This powerful technique was discovered by George Miller in the 1950s. He observed limited human ability to distinguish sensory inputs (around seven levels for sounds or colors). Initially, he likened this to computer memory, where more bits (memory slots) allow for finer distinctions.

Applying this to humans, Miller calculated a theoretical “sensory memory bank” of 2.8 bits based on distinguishing seven levels. He also observed a seven-item limit for memorizing things such as numbers or words. But, unlike bits, letters have varying information content, making a consistent “bit” measure impossible.

So, Miller introduced “chunks” as the working memory unit. While we can hold about seven chunks, the number of “bits” they contain varies. He proposed that chunking organizes information into increasingly complex units over time. As you learn, initial information overload gets chunked, freeing up space for more. Oakley echoes this notion, highlighting how chunking expands your working memory’s capacity.

More Perspectives

Chunking tasks is a powerful motivator, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Certain goals might thrive on a broader, more connected approach, rather than being dissected into bite-sized pieces. Remember, we all learn and work differently. The key to staying motivated lies in flexibility, not sticking to a single method. Explore different approaches to find what fuels your unique fire.

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In our guide to this book, we discuss why it’s important to have a mindshift in the modern world. Then we outline Oakley’s strategies for overcoming perceived limitations so that you can have your own mindshift. We also supplement Oakley’s ideas with other experts’ tips for supercharging your learning and maximizing your potential.

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Using the Chunking Method to Reach Goals (Huberman Lab)

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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