I was painting the bathroom, and I remembered that big, open spaces of wall, with electric outlets, are the easiest to paint. Within a few a minutes I could cover most of the bigger areas, and the the bigger the space, the easier it was. Corners, edges, smaller spaces took up most of the time. Painting around obstacles like vents and outlets that had to be masking-taped.
So if you have to do large tasks like reading thousand-page novels, really such things can be done quite easily and efficiently. They will still take up time, but proportionally your work will go faster than in checking off a thousand small details.
My flaws in painting are the same as my flaws in scholarship. I want to plunge in before I've completed my research; I want to paint all the walls at once, jumping randomly from task to task; I am not meticulous enough; I under- or over-estimate how long something is going to take.