How to Eat an Elephant

Beat procrastination and feelings of overwhelm. Finish tasks, make change

​We can often feel overwhelmed with our workload, which can lead to acute procrastination. It can be anything and everything; from the office desk deadlines, the laundry at home, kids homework (yes we often don't discipline ourselves to discipline our children!), right through to our own personal goals to better our lives eg study, health, activities, down-time. We will do anything and everything to avoid the least liked tasks. So how do we get things done?

Well, it's just like eating an elephant; One mouthful at a time!

But where to start ?

The Trunk:
An easy, straightforward piece. Just do it. And it's over. BOOM. No extra add-on's. No entrails left over to sort out. Once it's done it's done and out of your mind. Yay

The Legs (four of):
This is the part that needs to be repeated. Consistent effort. More than once. The legs look the same and may act the same, but all require a little bit of individual work to get them eaten and ‘off the table’ so to speak You may need to go to many meetings, perhaps re-draft a proposal, pitch to a variety of investors.

The Torso:
Oh My Lordy, this is a big, grey, chunky lump of elephant here. You can’t even see over the top of it. It blocks out the sunlight. It’s humongous. Where do I start ?. Aaaargh, I hear you say. Yip, that’s how it feels but you gotta eat this Elephant torso somehow and get this off your list. But how? Well, one mouthful at a time:

• You’re going to have to pace yourself here. Small bite-size chunks.
• Avoid focussing on the finishing line too much, just focus on ‘what’s on your plate’ for now.
• Chop it up. Find similarities - sections, portions, patterns or themes - and work from there.
• Pace yourself, Take a breather, regroup, go for a walk in the fresh air. Then get stuck in again

The Head:
This one has a lot of work with little to fill you up.

Here are a few different ways:

• TASKS: Things that just HAVE to get done whether you want to or not. Make a list of 5 things to achieve today, and realistically aim to accomplish 3 of them.

• DON'T add things to your list after you have done them, just so you can have a tick next to your item. You know that's a cheat right !

• Do the most difficult task first - then all others are easier. PHEW !

• Get organised. No, not your entire life organised ! but the parts of the task involved.

• GOALS: Things you wish to achieve to create new results.

• get moral SUPPORT from friends or colleagues - be honest with them about what you are trying to achieve, and choose people who you trust to be honest with you (but who won't be harsh or scathing)

• join a CLUB connected to your activity to boost morale - like-minded people will have a greater understanding of what you are trying to achieve, the pitfalls involved and they will have strategies to help you through it. If joining the club IS your goal then work out your fears. Try some CBT, meditation, EFT and self-affirmations to get you there.

• Give yourself TIME - thing always take longer than we expect - try to add in twice as much time as you expect it to take. You may be pleasantly surprised and have it done in half the time. Win !

• Purrr - create an environment that makes you feel happy and positive (unless it is the housework that you're procrastinating about). Put on some nice music, keep pets off your desk, a cosy hot chocolate. But remember not to spend ALL day creating ambience, Just try to make all your needs met before you start – and it limits the coffee breaks !.

• Goal setting - give yourself a reward for each item you manage to finish. Personally I don't prescribe to this one, as I often find the relief gained from having that weight lifted off my mind is more than enough. But DO give yourself some down-time if you wish before you push onto the next task, and NO, I don't mean a GoT binge

• Allocate yourself time. Real time. Un-interrupted time

• Get REAL.Why are you REALLY putting this off? What are you REALLY scared of ? Did you fail before ? - Great, now you have some valuable lessons to work with this time. Do you find it difficult? You are stronger than you think and tap into the friends/resources point I mentioned earlier. Are you a perfectionist? That's great, but not everything is perfect in life. Just do it and if you have time you can create perfection later (and doing nothing has NO chance of perfection!)

• Switch off the telly. Oprah won't rescue you ! Corrie can wait. This is YOUR life, and YOU are in charge of it. These TV Celebs won't be affected if you miss your goals and deadlines but YOU will.

• Never mind the past, just try your best today.

• Be honest - don't include 'eating a biscuit' or 'having a nap'

• Don't blame others. If there ARE other people involved that are affecting results then keep your momentum going. You may need to make alternative plans, have a plan B, keep everyone informed, use new resources. There is always an alternative to completion.

IDENTIFY your ‘elephant part’ and apply the techniques above.

PS. I love elephants. Alive. All parts of them. They have helped me immensely over the years get jobs done ! Maybe one day I’ll get to meet some in real life – I’ll put it on my list !

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