How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Outtakes 153

How Do You Eat An Elephant?
By Cait Collins

Have you ever had one of those weeks that just fell apart? You have so many obligations you can’t seem to get a handle on things. The pressure builds and one tiny little incident creates a meltdown. For me misplacing my keys was the last straw. My youngest sister told me about a time when she had a similar situation. Her husband asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is really quite simple. “One bite at a time.”

No one can eat an entire elephant, but if broken into pieces, the task can be accomplished. This is my solution.

  1. Admit there is a problem. Write it down. “I have over committed myself and need to get everything together.
  2. Take a nap. Yes take a nap. Even a twenty or thirty minute power nap can clear the cobwebs and allow you to think more clearly.
  3. Make a detailed list. Begin with what must be done today. Do not put anything on this list that can be put off until tomorrow. Do the same for each day. Now everything is broken into manageable bites.
  4. Do one task from beginning to end. Do not allow yourself to be sidetracked. When job is completed, mark it off the list and go on to the next one. When the day’s list is finished, quit for the day. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
  5. When the crisis has passed, get a better handle on your calendar. Make sure you allow yourself time for professional and social commitments, but do not neglect your responsibilities to family, faith, and yourself.
  6. Responsibility to self includes eating right and getting sufficient sleep. No one can function properly if the body is not fueled and rested.
  7. If you know you will not be able to honor an obligation, own up to it, but don’t wait until the last minute. Try to give your editor, agent, or the organization notice so that they may make other arrangements.

Life happens. That’s why it is best to avoid getting behind. But when the world does get a bit crazy, step back, take a deep breath, and then take the first bite of the elephant. You might season the beast with a bit of salt and pepper and a bottle of steak sauce. It will make the meal go down better.

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