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How to Eat an Elephant

How to Eat an Elephant

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - October 11th, 2019

You know how to eat an elephant, right?  One bite at a time!  When you are tackling those large tasks at home and numerous smaller ones, it helps to break them down into do-able steps.  Some are today tasks.  Some need some preparation for another day.  And some are really huge, so you need to have a chunk of time to get them completed.


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How to Eat an Elephant — Getting Things Done around the Home

Years ago, I attended a conference called “How to Eat an Elephant–Organizing and De-cluttering Your Home.” It was chock full of treasures that helped to lift my load, as a young mom.  So I wanted to take a little time to break down some great takeaways, I gleaned, to help you in your own journey.

A Quick Run Through of What I Learned

First, write out your home to-do list.  It might be cleaning out drawers or going through clothes–or could be a larger task like organizing the garage or attic. You might have a huge undertaking that needs a lot of extra helpers–like renovating/redecorating a room or clearing out the storage shed. No matter what it is, big or little, write it down.

Then dedicate a page to each task and as much as possible write every step that needs to happen to complete the task.  On this page, write out the cost–both financial and time–of the task.  Also add any special things needed for it to be completed. Is it weather permitting? Do you need someone to help? Is there any special equipment needed?

Lastly, pull out your calendar and begin to schedule each task in order of importance and time. At this point, you have a plan.  Now, you simply need the supplies and people in place for the day they are scheduled.

That’s just a small portion of what I learned that day!  But I want to give you some great, valuable resources I gleaned, as well!

A List of Questions to Ask Yourself: Should I Keep This or Toss It?

  • Have I used this item in the past year?
  • Has anyone else in my home used it in the past year?
  • Do I have a definite use for this in the foreseeable future?
  • If it is broken, is it worth fixing?
  • Can it be reworked into something else?
  • Does this item serve a worthwhile purpose in my life?
  • Do I need to keep it for legal or tax purposes?
  • Is it more important for me to keep this item than to have the space it occupies?
  • Do I love it?
  • Would it be difficult or expensive for me to get another one?

A Couple of Great Cleaning Checklists

Books to Help You Dig Deeper

  • Simplify Series by Marcia Ramsland
  • Organizing Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin
  • Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield
  • More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes

Websites to Help You Track and Stay Accountable


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Finally, I hope this has helped give you a lift on your own journey!  One of the best things I ever did was begin to tell my friend about my plans for organizing and taking back an orderly and clean home. Then she would tell me her plans. We not only held each other accountable for completing our tasks, we also cheered one another on and HELPED!  It makes the tasks so much better to  work together with a friend!

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