How to Eat an Elephant

The most difficult step in any project is the first one. Getting started on a task, be it reading a book, writing a paper or learning a piece of music can be extremely difficult. When all you can see is the finished product, the entire elephant, it seems impossible to complete.

But every task, no matter how daunting, has a manageable first step.

Sometimes when you're especially "stuck," it's time to break down the process to achieve small victories. If you need to write a paper, but have absolutely no idea what the introduction would be, take a few steps back. You know you won't even begin to write that intro if you don't have a word processor open on your computer. And that word processor won't open while you're still browsing Facebook.

So rather than take 5 steps at a time, take half steps.

  • Stop the distractions
  • Open your word processor
  • Write a sentence
  • Maybe you're assignment is to finish that book by Monday, and you haven't even started. It's obvious nothing will get read if the book isn't open, so just pick it up, open it and read the first paragraph. Same with a musician. Your piece will not be ready if you don't practice, and you can't  practice with your instrument in its case in the other room. Get it, take it out and blow a few notes.

    How do you eat an elephant?
    One bite at a time.

    I'm not sure where the grisly saying came from, but it still holds true. Imagining yourself with a finished term paper at the start can be discouraging, and makes it easy to procrastinate. Instead, take the few easy steps you know you can do, and find encouragement when they're completed.

    Even to write this blog post at midnight, I knew I had to complete a few steps to even start.

    Open the computer.

    Login to my blog.

    Click + Add Post.

    Start writing.