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How To Eat An Elephant

18 Jun

I’ve been told the best way to eat an elephant (although I’m not sure I would actually wish to do that) is one bite at a time. How many times have you looked at your day the same way saying to yourself, “Perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”

The mass of tasks that surround us from time to time can appear overwhelming and undoable when you look at it as a whole. If you’re like me, you see twenty things that need to get done and your system initially shuts down out of an inability to comprehend how you’re going to get it all completed. I actually find it odd that the more we have tohow-to-eat_an_elephant1 accomplish, the less inclined we are to attack any of it.

As a video director I work off of the same philosophy when filming. Often we attempt to capture too much with one shot which makes it impossible for the viewer to know what they’re supposed to be focused on. The best thing to do is to choose one subject, focus on it and blur out everything around it so you can keep your attention on just one thing for a while. Then move to a second shot when you’re ready. Eventually you end up with everything you need to put together the perfect story.

Same holds true in life. When you’re attempting to focus on too many things at once, the reality is you focus on none of it. It’s just a mass of information and your system simply can’t register it all at once. And so it shuts down.

So, make a list of things you need to get done. I know, “Really? A List? Who are you, my ex-wife?” But it works. Write down EVERYTHING that needs to happen. Pick a couple of small things, focus on them one at a time and then move on to something else. You may not get to everything in one day, but you’ll start to see things getting done which will motivate you to keep going. Before you know it you’ll look at all of the crossed off items and realize you’re capable of more than you gave yourself credit for.

The payoff, btw, is huge. The accomplishment of each task gives you a sense of moving forward and getting your life under control. Progress of any nature is empowering and it all starts with the first small bite.

 

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