The REKRUTR Vault: How to Eat an Elephant

This week’s post is for those of us who need a little motivation for that bigger than life project we’re working on. Whether it was assigned, or you volunteered for it, you know the one I mean. It is the one you’ll be working on this weekend.  It’s the one that seems to never be finished; the one that keeps you awake at night. It is the most challenging project on your plate. Sometimes, it is the only project on your plate. I call these projects my elephants. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Is it Really an Elephant?

I am a horrible procrastinator. I’ll admit. Somewhere around the fifth grade I realized that I work really well under a lot of pressure and I’ve used that my whole life to justify what most call habitual procrastination. It is pretty scary that I just put this in print. Usually I deny it, and my husband, my parents, or my former colleagues have to remind me that this is part of the problem. Identify the traits of your personal work style that could make a project feel like an elephant when it doesn’t have to be. Be honest with yourself so you can determine what is really causing this project to be so massive. Talk it over with those you are close to; those who know you best. Are you really overloaded, or is it your support team, the work environment, or your own bad habits that are making it feel too big to handle? Once you find the obstacles, you can work to tackle them one by one; “one bite at a time.”

Turn Down the Perfectionism

While I’m confessing, I’ll go right ahead and let you know that I can be a perfectionist as well. Sometimes a project can feel like an elephant because I get so caught up in the small details that I am not keeping my focus on the big picture. Does this happen to you? This used to happen to me when I worked on big-scope sourcing projects in RPO. I would have one position with a difficult profile, and I’d throw everything I had in to that one position. I’d hope the other easy-fill positions were doing fine. Until they weren’t doing fine. Then I would stress out and complain about this GIANT elephant I was trying to manage. Do yourself a favor if you know you have a bit of a perfectionist’s streak. Turn it down right now and keep the big picture in mind. Perfectionism can be productivity’s worst enemy.

Reward Yourself Throughout

One of the hardest things about elephants is waiting for the reward at the completion of a project. Even if you have been retained to work on this project, finding the satisfaction of a job well done is hard when the road ahead looks bumpy and full of potential risks and failures. Find ways to reward yourself at various points along the way. Only you can determine what will motivate you and when you can consider a task completed as warranting a reward, but trust me it makes a difference.

Get Help!

Are you using all of your resources? Is there technology available that could take off some of the load? My best piece of advice for dealing with an elephant is taking “breathers” throughout the project to see where you can use some help. Are there people you can delegate some of the on-going tasks to? Can you add some technology within your budget that will help you get organized? For example, if you are a recruiter and not using a job distribution tool like I highly recommend you try it. The time you save in posting the job or jobs to various websites alone will make a big difference.

What do you do to choke down your elephants? Post your techniques in the comment section below.

Amy McDonald is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360° 

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