by Karen Ball
You remember the old adage:
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time!
As I’ve reviewed my calendar this week, I’ve realized that’s what I’ve got on the screen in front of me. An elephant.
And they’re reaaaaallly big.
SO many things to get done before I board a plane early Wednesday morning and wing my way to Dallas for the ACFW conference. As if that elephant wasn’t big enough, there’s the one sitting there, reminding me that I won’t be able to work on anything on my list while I’m gone. As I take it all in, one thought fills my mind:
It would be so easy to just shut off the computer and go hide someplace. Like a nice, quiet closet. Where there’s no phone calls.
I know I’m not alone. Seems that most everyone’s calendars and schedules have grown to elephant proportions lately. I hear from more and more authors and editors how the days go by in a flash, but the To Do list just seems to keep growing, like Kudzu on steroids. A friend just told me on the phone last week: “I’m working all these hours, but I never seem to get anything done!”
So what’s a time-challenged writer to do when it seems there are more to-dos than days? And your writing time keeps getting consumed by obligations and duties? Take it a bite at a time.
Get your to-do list and choose ONE item to tackle. Then do nothing but that. For 10 minutes.
Yup, just ten minutes. But it has to be 10 uninterrupted minutes. Focus on nothing but that item. No emails. No answering the phone. (Trust me: they will call back or leave a message.) No getting distracted by the to-do list and second guessing your item choice. No getting up for a glass of water, to check the mail, to pet the dog, or change the hamster cage, or any of the gazillion things calling for your attention.
Use those 10 minutes with determined focus. You can do it!
At the end of the 10 minutes, take stock. How much have you gotten done? Enough to move to the next item? If so, go for it. If not, then give yourself 10 more minutes.
Sounds crazy, but you’d be amazed how much you can accomplish in 10 focused minutes. For example, one of the items on my overloaded to-do list was this blog. Which I started 7.5 minutes ago.
And now I have 2.5 minutes to add to the next bite. And you know what? That makes me happy.
So when your elephant gets too big for your plate, give it a try. Tackle him, one 10-minute bite at a time. You’ll be as amazed as I’ve been at the results.
No doubt about it.
The elephant’s goin’ down.