How Do You Eat An Elephant?

One bite at a time. Instead of focusing on the enormity of something, focus on a single task.
Stylized realist painting of a large elephant made up of an assortment of colorful fruits generated by AI platform Midjourney
Created with Midjourney
By Greg Gunn
January 28, 2024
4 min read

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What is your favorite background texture televisions show?

You know that one you put on when you’re cooking or cleaning and want something dumb to half-pay attention to? Mine is CSI (the original Las Vegas series, none of that silly Miami stuff).

Every episode starts with a heinous murder whose circumstances set up a fantastic one-liner for the CSI lead, Gil Grissom. Most are terrible puns, but not all.

In one of my recent watches, Gil turns to his morbidly discouraged partner and asks, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Cut to last last week.

Ben and I were planning a large, complex web project. After hours of discussion, we had a robust, feature-rich web app plan. Each feature consisted of several interweaved user flows that would necessitate a lot of design iteration, not to mention the demanding backend requirements.

In other words, we had a giant elephant on our plate.

At that moment, I thought, “one bite at a time.” Instead of focusing on the enormity of it all we agreed to start with a single feature. And after only a day of working on a handful of design directions, I can already see the elephant shrinking.

The lesson? CSI is a great show. And also, sometimes the easy road is the hard road, but taking it one meaningful step at a time makes it easier to walk.

tl;dr - CSI rules, big things are overwhelming, turn your big things into lots of small connected things