Steve Hansen: Breaking things down step-by-step


By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

The Internet and magazines have become saturated lately with articles that break everything down into a specified number of things to think or do.

I read a lot of these, unfortunately — you know “Seven Easy Steps to World Peace,” “Eight Ways to Get Lettuce out of Your Teeth Discreetly,” “Five things You Should Know about SpongeBob SquarePants,” and even “Ten Celebrities You Didn’t Know Had Relatives Who Work at the Post Office.”

I have discovered seven simple things to remember the next time I’m confronted with a title like “Five Easy Steps to a Home Kidney Transplant.”

Here they are:

1. Ask myself, “If there were only one step/item/way involved with this subject, would I care?”

2. Remember, if there are five steps, I’ll remember four; if four, three; if 17, two or less.

3. Remember any course in college that had 101 in the title? Usually the textbook broke everything down into laundry lists. Do I still remember the six ways in which President Millard Fillmore changed the State Department? How about the four advantages and five disadvantages of a partnership compared to a sole proprietorship from Business 101?  With that in mind, how many of those “Seven Ways to Impress Your Boss with your Organizational Genius” do I think will stick?

4.  If I really need to know something about the subject being boiled down, do I need a quick read that likely leaves an impression as deep as the one an ice-skating flea makes on a hockey rink?

5.  Do I really think an author can cover a specialty in which he or she has consulted for years in 10 easy steps? How can she or he make a living at it if it’s that easy?

6. If you’ve read this far, you, too, are addicted to list stories. I hope it was more rewarding for you to read this than it was for me to write it, but I doubt it. You should stop now.

7. Remember, numbered sets of steps, ways or items in a title is a trend that will go away, some time.

Steve Hansen writes about the life and times of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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