How To Eat an Elephant

Lately I feel like my life’s a bit like a rushed visit to the supermarket. One where you arrive with mental list of things to buy, you fly down the aisles hoping that you remember everything on the list, and if you do miss anything you just cross your fingers that it’s not too imperative.

You began with a hand-basket thinking you only needed a few things but it’s now full and you’re wishing you had grabbed a trolley instead. The basket is piling higher and higher as you grab more items left, right and centre. With every extra ingredient  for some unplanned baking you’ve now decided to do, or for a new meal idea you spontaneously think of, it creates another mental to-do note, and adds another item to your mental shopping list.

By the time you get to the register you’re frazzled, the shopping has taken longer than you expected, you have extra items in your basket for that you hadn’t planned on buying, you’ve forgotten things you needed and you’ve probably blown the budget. Story of my life, and not just my visits to the supermarket.

I have an uncanny way of cramming things into every pocket of spare time I have, then I agree to do extra things that I don’t even have time for. During the week, like lots of age-group athletes I wake up before dawn and squeeze one or two hours of training in prior to 9-10 hours of work. Then I fill my “days off” with training, racing, socialising, running errands, doing housework, blogging, researching and whatever else life throws at me. Sometimes I think my work days are less hectic than my days off (and I have a pretty demanding job)!

But this week as I increase the pace on the treadmill of life, I have realised that if I don’t start writing things down and prioritising them, I am going to going flying off the back of the treadmill (yes I do love analogies).

Looking back on the supermarket visit I described above, if I had begun with a shopping list on paper and stuck to it, the problems that had arisen by the end probably could have been avoided.

So today, as I have an unexpected day off work, I decided to write down everything I need to achieve and prioritise it from most important to least. The list is so long that I have realised I don’t really have the time (or brainpower) to take on any additional tasks or shifts at work.

Some things can be done today and then ticked off (oh how satisfying is it to strike a line through completed tasks). Then some things that keep springing to mind and make me feel overwhelmed “oh I need to do x” aren’t really that imperative and can maybe wait.

In three weeks I go to Vietnam and have a few long flights and many hours in transit that could be utilised more productively than scrolling social media or wandering the halls of Singapore Airport aimlessly. Although it is a beautiful airport, and Duty Free will be investigated before any tasks are tackled.

One of the items on my to do list was to write a blog post, as it has been over a month since I last did. I guess I can cross it off my list for now, although I didn’t write about any of the topics I had planned.

In the last month I have raced twice, been inspired many times and learnt a few good life lessons that I wanted to share with you. Instead I have written a post about tasks… So have I really just wasted an hour of my time and created another task for myself? Oh gosh I really should’ve got that trolley at the supermarket, I told you I was good at overloading it.

So if you are like me and feeling overwhelmed with a mental to do list I would suggest you do the same, but create a list with a twist…

  1. Grab a pen and paper and write a list of EVERYTHING on your mind that you need to do.
  2. For each item on the list, give it a score between 0 and 10 on how important it is to you that you complete the task. (Where zero is completely unimportant and 10 is that it’s imperative you complete it.)
  3. Anything that scores less than 3 I would file in the “Future Chloe’s Problem” basket. Re-write the sub-3 scorers on a separate piece of paper and put it somewhere you can look at it again next week. (As it must have some importance as it still did make an appearance on the list, but obviously isn’t a priority right now.)
  4. For everything else, prioritise your list in order of the number it scored, then start eating the elephant…  One bite at a time.


Good luck, I would love to hear how you go and what you achieved this week. I will aim to write more frequently than once over the next month, but to stay updated on my Challenge Vietnam preparations and travels head over to Facebook and like my page Living in Lycra.

Until next time, enjoy eating the elephant and remember… Focus on being productive instead of being busy.

Chloe x

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