How to eat an elephant

Jun 23, 2015 · 3 min read
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You may ask why you would want to eat an elephant.

What will it taste like? Chicken?

How would you cook it, does it need a sauce? Perhaps you feel I am being crass and disgusting to suggest eating an endangered animal. That all may be so, but have you thought about *how* you would eat an elephant?

When talking to people who struggle with their productivity, they have a long to do list and don’t know where to start. I will put in the caveat that I don’t know many people who have a to do list that is pretty empty, beyond the under 5s who are yet to start school. A lot of the people I know, struggle to work through it and simply move the items from one list to the next.

This may well be suitable for those tasks that don’t need to be done now, are not very important or urgent, or, can be completed far in the future. But what about those lists that have those big immediate tasks on them.

You don’t know where to start or where it will lead and so you put them off. It is like walking into a house you may want to buy and realising that you have to rip out the kitchen. Kitchen’s may not be expensive in the grand scheme of buying a house, but you just think of the cost, the mess, the time etc and think it will be too big, so you dismiss the house.

How many tasks on your list look like that? You don’t know where to start, it could get messy, you may go one way and realise that it is all wrong and have to start again. These are not bad things in and of themselves, but that is what is putting you off starting the task.

So what do you do when writing your to-do list? Break each item down into manageable pieces before adding them to your list. They will need to be in some order so that you don’t do something with a dependency on something else, but a task that looks like a massive job has been broken into small 5 minute tasks, you will be amazed how quickly you do each one and that it may take you less time than you thought.

As the quip goes, how do you eat an elephant?

You need to eat it one bite at a time.


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