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How to Eat an Elephant: Implementing Your Project

When a new project or initiative is proposed, the thought of what needs to be done can be overwhelming and even paralysing.

This blog post is all about how to take action and get that project nailed! We also give you 10 productivity tips at the end to make your day go BANG! As well as this, you'll gain access to a furniture reuse program milestone spreadsheet so you can plan your reuse program roll out. 


It was the United States Army General Creighton Adams who first posed this question..

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

 And his answer..

A: ‘One bite at a time’.


What this means is that when you’ve got an enormous project on the go- it can become a monster! It can be overwhelming. This project, in facilities, procurement, sustainability, behaviour change, reuse or cultural change is going to be exhausting and seem like a huge insurmountable task.

So, take it ‘one bite at a time’, break it down into milestones, then break those milestones into tasks and break those tasks into a simple step-by-step to-do list, perhaps with just a single item on it.


Why do we find breaking goals down so hard?

Business expert Seth Godin advises this: “My suggestion is, whenever possible, ask yourself: What’s the smallest possible footprint I can get away with? What is the smallest possible project that is worth my time? What is the smallest group of people who I could make a difference for, or to? Because smallest is achievable. Smallest feels risky. Because if you pick smallest and you fail, now you have really screwed up… We want to pick big. Infinity is our friend. Infinity is safe. Infinity gives us a place to hide. So, I want to encourage people instead to look for the small. To be on one medium in a place where people can find you. To have one sort of interaction with one tribe, with one group where you don’t have a lot of lifeboats.”

elephants reuse how to eat incremental milestone 

You are on a journey

Every day, when you come into work, arrive at your desk and turn on your screen, you should already know the one thing you can do to drive forward your objectives. Each day you get a little bit closer,after thirty days you’ll see a big leap, after sixty days even more and when you finish the project, you can turn around and look at all the small, easy steps that you took along the way.

This is the exact methodology for how we help our customers here at Warp It. When implementing our software, we never wanted it to be overwhelming or irksome, so we broke it down in 28 little setup tasks. We knew that many people who would be using Warp It already have a million other things to do, so we had to make implementation as manageable and simple as possible.


Just pick one thing…

It’s too frequent an occurrence that people reach the end of the week and they’ve not completed everything on their to-do list. This is really demotivating, as it makes you feel that you have not been as successful. You feel like you’ve been constantly busy but not progressive, as last week’s unfinished to-do list drifts further into the past, still with tasks uncompleted. Tim Ferriss, famous businessman and author says ‘Just pick one thing’. You just need to do one thing on your to-do list at a time, and it becomes much easier to see them as individual goals than as a collective group of tasks. 


How do you generate milestones?

We got you covered for this do not worry!

Step 1

Define your goal or objective as specifically as you can. What do you want to achieve? By when? How will you know you got there?- ie add some numbers to it to measure progress. Why are you doing it? What are the benefits? Who will benefit? Why will people care? Who are your primary and secondary stakeholders/ target audience? 

Step 2

Make a list. Write down everything that you need to do to achieve the objective or goal. LIttle things and big things. It can help to put these on sticky notes. The following points will help stimulate your creative juices:

  • What is the first step? Explore that. Break it down.
  • You will get ideas as you go. Try to explore each idea.
  • If you get an idea off at a tangent make a note and come back to it. Continue exploring the original idea.
  • Think about the end goal as if you have achieved it.  Think what steps are needed to get there in reverse. What happened just before you got to the objective.
  • Identify obstacles.
  • Identify resources you require.
  • Identify help you need.

Keep adding ideas and activities until your list is complete.

Step 3
Organize your list or sticky notes into a plan by sequence & priority. Use the 80/20 rule to prioritize - 20% of tasks will accomplish 80% of action. Ditch the stuff that does not make big impact or is not really needed.

That’s the power of breaking down your object into milestones, eating your elephant one bite at a time and ticking ahead at the most manageable rate. Put this in effect and your productivity will increase, leading you to greater long term success.


If all of this incredible information wasn't enough, Daniel has put TEN additional productivity hacks into this quick downloadable.

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Don't go yet! If you are planning a reuse system , furniture reuse programe or similar: You might like this spreadsheet which breaks down the project into milestones.

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Here's another Warp It hack

Use our templates to save time and get ideas!

Free Download

Joseph Kennedy

Joseph Kennedy

My journey is education, communication and innovation. My destination is a world free from environmental collapse, ecological ruin and unbreathable air.


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