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Thursday, January 18, 2018

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10 Time Management Tips to Help You Deal with Your Elephant-Sized Projects
Karen Eber Davis

August, 2007

10 Time Management Tips to Help You Deal with Your Elephant-Sized Projects To Begin

Karen Eber Davis

1. Divide your elephants into servings sizes, i.e., tasks that can be completed in one or two hour sessions. You can't write an annual report or book in a session. You can create three ideas for the cover or outline the first chapter.

2. Evaluate if all the "servings" are necessary? Can you simplify them? Can you switch to a conference call instead of a meeting to save transportation time and expenses?


1. Identify "servings" that can be shared with others. To avoid elephant rot, pass on as soon as possible. Establish realistic deadlines that allow for illnesses, vacations and unforeseen complications (like other visiting elephant herds.)

2. Send out reminder notices of approaching deadlines 48-hours in advance. Make a note to thank the person helping and their boss, at least twice.

3. If your boss interferes, bring your elephant to them and seek their buy-in on its priority. Establish permission to say "no" to other requests, even theirs.


1. If you don't already know it, discover your best hour of the day and day(s) of the week to tackle the most challenging "servings"

2. Set a schedule to tackle each serving. If you need eight hours to write a draft, but get itchy after two, schedule four two-hours sessions on sequential days.

3. Establish firm appointments with yourself. "On Monday at 1, I will work on the elephant for two hours." Write this in ink on your calendar. Hold calls. Don't open your email. If necessary, move to a secluded location, like a spare office or a library.

4. Identify servings you can complete in downtimes. Can you draft a table of content, set up a chart or outline an agenda while waiting for your next appointment?

5. When you know you won't get back to a "serving" for several days, jot a mini to-do list on an index card size sticky. Place it on top of the materials as a reminder where to begin your next session.

When you complete an elephant schedule at least a half-an-hour by yourself or with the team to debrief and reflect on what you learned and would do differently. And, remember to celebrate, even its just taking a half an hour walk before your appointment with the next member of the herd.

Karen Eber Davis is a consultant, strategist, group facilitator and writer. As president of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, she draws on her full set of skills to help organizations plan and fund their way to excellence. Her firm has attracted such clients as the Red Cross, Circus Sarasota, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Suncoast Workforce Development Board, the Englewood Water District, Dreams are Free and more than 100 local, regional and national organizations. Her consulting work is respected for its innovation, enthusiasm and energy as well as its practical understanding of the spirit and psychology of nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit her website at


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