JS Tip 142: From the Time Management Workshops: The “Elephant Principle”

We said last week: We’re close to year’s end. A lot of us make resolutions. We’ll talk about ways to keep those resolutions.

Too many important tasks remain undone because they intimidate the prospective doer:

Clean the garage. Wow. That’s a lot of work.

Get an MBA. Wow. That’s a lot of work.

Put a man on the moon. Wow. That’s a lot of work.

And the size of the task scares us away.

The solution is to break the important task into smaller, bite-size pieces.

Let’s say you want to get a Masters in Business Administration: an important task that will probably take years to complete.

Break getting your MBA into bite-size pieces. Brainstorm the smaller tasks:  

Attend classes
Pay tuition
Apply to a school

Of those smaller, bite-size pieces, which should you do first? Probably “Apply to a school.”

Break that task into bite-size pieces. Brainstorm the even smaller tasks:

Fill out the application
Talk to tuition assistance
Find my undergraduate transcripts

And, of these tasks, which should you do first? Probably “Find my transcripts” (because the school and tuition assistance may want to see your records).

You can break that task into bite-size pieces. Let’s find your transcripts:

Look in the file cabinet
Look in the attic
Call my college and order a copy

And you can even break looking in the file cabinet into smaller, bite-size pieces:

Open the top file drawer
Look at each folder
Look in the bottom of the drawer where things get lost

How intimidating is “Open the top file drawer”? It’s not. Not at all.

“Hey. I can do that!”

And that’s the first step to getting your MBA.

The Elephant Principle: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

If you have questions, comments, or arguments, let us know. We love this stuff. Really.

Next week: Getting still more done. The value of a deadline.