Do you ever put off an important task and each day that you delay completing it, you actually become even more resistant to starting it?
I do that. Specifically with anything accounting/tax related. With sorting mail and the paper trail. With folding laundry. And writing thank you notes, blog posts and newsletters. You see, I've convinced myself that I'm a sprinter, not a marathoner. That I'm fast like the hare and can't stand to go at the tortoise's pace.
But my husband has taught me a little something that is starting to impact my productivity in an amazingly positive way. No doubt you've heard before of the "eat the elephant" concept.
It goes like this:
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
Simple. Obvious. And incredibly effective. And when you do that, you're the tortoise, slowly making progress one step at a time.
Justin used this strategy most recently after a tree came down on our roof during a windstorm. The tree guys removed it from the roof and left big old logs in a pile on top of where Justin had previously planted day lilies. He knew he'd have to move the pieces of tree trunk so that the day lillies could grow. But what a huge job it was!
Each day that we were there, he'd go out and periodically move a log. When we went on an errand in the car and returned to the house, he'd go out and tote a log since he already had his boots and coat on. Before too long and without breaking his back, the pile had moved over to another part of the garden. WIth that task done, he's now (bite by bite) splitting those fat logs into firewood for next year.
This slow and steady pace is anathema to my typical approach to most anything. I'd much rather set aside a chunk of time and do something start to finish.
Somehow it's harder to get started on a task if I have to complete it IN ITS ENTIRETY. It seems so huge and daunting that merely beginning is a feat of will power.
And as any new mom knows, snagging more than an hour and a half of free time can be a challenge.
What's an ambitious gal with a productivity problem to do?
Lately I've been trying to become the tortoise. I now apply the eat the elephant approach to a couple of items on my to-do list: thank you notes for all the amazing baby gifts, a program I'm taking on marketing, and even a bit of housework.
It's actually quite gratifying to go at the slow and steady pace.
I LIKE being a tortoise. I am enjoying the steady progression of incremental achievement. Now, if only I could get started on my taxes...
So, how about you. Are you a tortoise or a hare?