How To Eat Your Elephant

You’ve heard the old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

It’s a trite phrase, but it does create an interesting visual for taking on a seemingly HUGE task.

Unfortunately, when you start cutting at that elephant’s snout with your steak knife, you have very little chance of making it all the way to his tail (especially if he’s objecting to you hacking away at his snout with that steak knife!)

I think one of the biggest reasons people don’t finish BIG tasks (elephants) is NOT because they don’t have the desire or the willpower. I think the biggest reason is they don’t have a strategy to help them stay organized and focused long enough to reach the elephant’s tail.

So, here’s my advice on how any of us can eat an elephant… no matter how big.

Step 1: Get clear on your outcome (result) and WHY

Get very clear on the result you want from your BIG task.

How will you feel when it’s done?

Why do you want it done in the first place?

Have a clear picture of the end result, what it means to you to get it done, and WHY you want it done in the first place.

Step 2: Make a list

People love lists. Grocery lists. Shopping lists. Wish lists. Bucket lists. Lists of lists.

You need to make a list of the activities / actions you KNOW you’ll need to take to reach your big hairy elephant (er, goal). Break it down into bite-sized parts.

AVOID making your actions too “big” to eat in a single bite.

Example: don’t say “write 10 ads.” Say “brainstorm 5 headlines in 10 minutes.”

Just like you can’t eat the elephant’s entire leg in one bite, the key to getting things done is having a list of bite-sized actions you can do in one sitting.

Step 3: Put the next 3 steps on your calendar with a deadline

Things on your calendar with a date and time tend to get done. Things with no deadline tend to get pushed off until tomorrow. By putting the next three actions on your calendar you create deadlines, you create momentum, and you DON’T create overwhelm.

Step 4: Get a Mechanical Timer

Each bite of the elephant gets cut up and eaten one tasty, mouth-watering chew at a time. But you also can’t take all freaking day to chew that sucker up! We’ve got to eat (get done) other stuff on our plate too!

To me, bite-sized means 17 minutes. Not sure where I came up with that. I’ve heard others say 15 minutes… some 53 minutes. But I’ve found I can concentrate really hard on something for 17 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break, and then do another 17 minutes without getting mentally fried.

I can do this pattern all day… especially if I’m doing things that are related (headlines, bullets, sales copy, etc.) and stay pretty fresh.

I love using a mechanical timer because it’s a physical presence that reminds me to keep going and that time is ticking away!

Step 5: Put the Next Step On The Calendar

When you finish one step, put another step from your project list on your calendar. That way you always have the next 3 steps on your calendar so you keep momentum. It also keeps your big project as a priority in your daily life and prevents you from scheduling so many other things that your big project gets lost in the shuffle.

So, that’s how to eat your elephant… one bite at a time.

Let me know how your next “elephant BBQ” goes. I’m sure it’ll be a LOT more profitable (and not give you indigestion) if you follow this plan.

By the way, do you want to get more of your time back? Get instant access to my personal library of 40+ online and offline wizards that make all your content creation, marketing, and sales copy writing jobs 100X faster, easier and better!

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