How to ‘eat an elephant’ and stay productive

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  • Do you own your own business and struggle at times to stay motivated?
  • Is procrastination your worst enemy? You’ve tried time and time again to kick it to the curb – but no such luck?
  • Have you given up trying to keep up with the ever increasing and impossibly infinite to-do list?
  • Maybe you just don’t know where to start and so retreating to the couch seems like a much more inviting option?

If you’ve faced any of these challenges, then you’ve come face to face with a big fat elephant. We all know the old metaphor “How do you eat an elephant?” Certainly not by trying to shove the whole thing in our mouths right? No, we chop it up into chunks for easier digestion.

The same can be said about time and productivity management. Being productive is easy if you know how to ‘chunk the elephant’.

While not the only way to inspire motivation, the Chunk Strategy is a tried and proven way to get good quality results for absolutely anyone. You heard right – anyone can use it – even the serial couch potatoes amongst us. This 7-step technique can be used in all facets of life, whether at work or home. Are you a Teacher? Lawyer? Writer? Parent? Student? – Take your pick!! Basically wherever focus is required, the Chunk Strategy can help sharpen you up and produce good solid results.

Try the Chunk Strategy out for yourself today:

1. Prioritise. Prioritise your list of things to do. Usually it helps if you write those things down in order of priority, so you’re not tempted to jump back and forth between shadow tasks.

Every task is worthy of a mention. List them all so they don’t cozy up in the recesses of your mind!

This is especially important for the serial multitaskers. Multitasking might be a real and enviable skill you possess, but the truth is it doesn’t help in the focus department. When you put your hand to too many things at once, you can never give that one thing the focus it may need.
And don’t forget to use checkboxes! Checkboxes aren’t just great for keeping track, they also produce some serious satisfaction endorphins.

eat an elephant, planner, planning, setting goals, productivity, stay productive

2. Organise. Time to get yourself organised!

Grab your tools of trade and freshly filled out To-Do List, find a work-able space (preferably somewhere quiet and distraction-free), and get comfortable. Don’t worry, you won’t be sitting there for long.

Short bursts of work often produce better quality – not to mention motivation to continue – opposed to marathon efforts where burn out is often the end result.

3. Commit. Now there’s a toe-curling word! But yes, you will need to make a commitment to dedicate a full 20 minutes to your first task.

You can be a bit old fashioned and get yourself a timer, or keep an eye on a clock. We wouldn’t suggest having your phone running as a stopwatch because let’s face it, our wonderful smartphones can be the hugest distractions! Do yourself and your motivation a favour and keep those things well away, or at the very least on silent and out of direct sight.

Be determined not to get distracted for that 20 minute period. It’s not a long period of time – you can totally do it!

eat an elephant, planner, planning, setting goals, productivity, stay productive

4. Get busy. In the words of Rhianna herself; Work work work work work……for 20 minutes until your timer goes off.

Zone out and use all of your energy focusing on that one task.

If your mind wanders into no-mans land where there is always fifty million other things to do, jot it down on a piece of paper and put it aside until your 20 minutes is up, then you can slip it into your priority list somewhere.

Make sure anyone around you knows that you are UNAVAILABLE for the next 20 minutes. Working from home? The ‘do not disturb’ sign includes your kids and husbands!

5. Take a bow. Ding Ding Ding! The timer just went off and now you get to put a big fat tick next to your task.

It may not be a ‘completed’ tick but that’s ok because you can assign another 20 minutes to it after your break. Continue the cycle until you cross that finish line. There is no better feeling!

By giving yourself that tick you now have a record of time well spent. Aka – proof of productivity. This can do wonders for your mentality and motivation.
If you want to move on to another task on your priority list, feel free. But why not keep nailing that first one until you’re finished – might as well while you’re hot on track!

6. Breathe. After your marathon 20 minutes, make sure you take a 5-10 minute break where you are NOT thinking about work.

Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee, hang the washing out, check your facebook. Whatever helps you switch off for that short moment. Just don’t stay in that chill zone for too long, otherwise you may never make it out again.

Be ruthless and disciplined with your break time, then go back to carving up your elephant.

Keep doing this until you complete your task and are able to move on to the next one.

Productivity can be measured one tick at a time. The evidence that you are getting somewhere is right there in front of you and is oh so satisfying.

eat an elephant, planner, planning, setting goals, productivity, stay productive

7. Optimise. Now that you’re getting the hang of it and are on a roll, take a peep into future-planning-land.

You know what you’re doing now and can see results, so it’s time to expand that commitment factor a little bit more and optimise your productivity.

Now set up between 1-3 tasks per day depending on your individual circumstances. No more than 3 however, otherwise you will risk biting off more of that big old elephant than you can chew…yanking you right back to square one.

Creating this timetable will help maximise your entire week, and give you a great overview that will help you stay on the productivity track.

When you are this sorted you won’t need to spend any time worrying about what you should be doing while you’re trying to relax. This is the sweet taste of motivation success.