~This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon, if you make a purchase by clicking a link, we may recive a small amount at the same cost to you, which supports our efforts.~ 😊

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

How do you tackle overwhelming tasks and not just walk away?

On our off grid homestead, I found myself asking that question yesterday.

Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” What he meant by this is that everything in life that seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible can be accomplished gradually by taking on just a little at a time.

Psychology Today, April 24, 2018


Honestly, I asked it just now, when the entire detailed blog post I had almost completed, got deleted in the click of a key.

We have all heard the rhetorical question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The only answer is the thing we have to do, like it or not. We have to take it one bite at a time.

The Sad Tale

I am not going to repeat my whole story of me troubleshooting our broken washer, the overwhelm, the frustration, and how I dug my heels in this time about lugging laundry. That took up my whole post, and I think it was told cleverly. But life is life, and once deleted, those quips can’t be reconstructed.

Long story short, our washer broke, I didn’t want to lug laundry, I tried to fix it, the repair guy finally said it might not be fixable, and yesterday, Andrew rolled in a new washer!

Celebrate the Small Things

I am super grateful for that!


After a couple trips to town, that washer was humming. I tackled a mountain of dirty laundry, still glad for that ability to wash again.

How do you eat an elephant when it’s in the form of mountains of laundry?

One load at a time.

Off Grid Quirks

I was so happy about doing load after load of clothes, that about bedtime, when Adam asked about why we have no water for a shower, I got that, “Oh, no” feeling. I trudged up the hill, and, sure enough, my washing spree had drained our water holding tank.

So…out came the inverter, I hooked it up to the solar well pump, and started that process. Obviously solar well pumps do not pump water at 9:30.RPS Solar well pump

The inverter ran for an hour, and when I hiked up to the tank, it didn’t even seem like it had filled at all!

Harrumph! Greg got a shower, no one would be using water during the night, so I said, “forget it” until tomorrow.

That’s Inconvenient

I still had a couple of things to check off for my 75 Hard, (See this post to find out what that is) so I guzzled more water, read more pages, and snapped a picture, which I’m sure looked so flattering!

Small Steps

Laundromat with legs sticking out of dryer

Getting our washer led to me cleaning out that laundry area. Every area has become a tool dump zone, and that bugs me. I wait for others to pick them up, but the others are always working on another project, so this time, I got that whole “how do you eat an elephant” thing going through my mind, and I told myself I could clean this area myself, since it’s important to me. Peace of mind is worth something.

One area–my laundry room–that was like one toe of the elephant. Looming over me is the rest of the house. That one room, after an hour or two, while washing, drying, folding, and hauling, I completed.

A Really, Really Big Elephant?

How to eat an elephant

So I decided to look at the whole list of projects like this. How do you eat an elephant when it looks like a whole home construction zone? One thing at a time.

How about when you take on too much? You may have to realize that you can’t eat all the elephants, and let some roam free.

I’m not sure why I’ve taken on the Ultimate Blog Challenge at the same time as starting the 75 Hard, trying to run a blog, crank you YouTube videos, and do all of this homesteading work, plus homeschool and help Greg with his business. There may be too many elephants in my corral.


I think I feel the need to prove to myself that I can do it. Especially when I see this home project stretching out, the constant mess of building, irrational as it seems, I think I try these challenges because I want to feel like I can conquer something.

I’d like the ducks in my home to get in a row. Obstacles barring that, maybe I latch onto another area to try to succeed in. I have no idea.

Choose One Elephant at a Time

I will say that we need to decide which elephant we want to conquer. Yesterday it was the washer situation. Today will be more washing, and I will take another area of our cabin and work at it like I did the laundry room. One bite at a time, and I’ll try to leave those other elephants, such as all the other rooms that need attention, alone.

How do you eat an elephant on the homestead?

You drink your water, you clear your head, and you pray for focus. You admit you can’t do everything today, even though it feels like you must.

You don’t get angry at family members doing their best, you just encourage them to tackle their own elephants.

How do you eat an elephant

How Do You Eat an Elephant, Step by Step?

I found this post super useful on breaking down big tasks into smaller jobs. Little victories stack up into big wins!


Today, I’m going to

  • Take my 75 Hard tasks one at a time.
  • Write one blog post and try to not think of twenty more, or the fact that my site was down 13 hours yesterday.
  • Do one load of laundry and say thank you to God that I can do that
  • Sweep one area, carry out wood, and tackle that one zone with tunnel vision.
  • Do one garden task, and take a look around me in the process

How do you eat en elephant on the homestead?

Turns out the same was as anywhere else–with a side of garden fresh salad, and one bite at a time.

Ridge Haven Homestead Blog, Character development, Homesteading Journey

5 Replies

  1. I’ve had those days or rather I’m still having them. And I thought the title of your post was How do you eat an eggplant! Oh brother! I guess the answer to that would be one bite at a time. 😄

  2. Laurie, my bold thought is that perhaps you are working too hard. I am a hard worker, too. But Jesus said, “I came that you might have and enjoy life.” So I hope you leave room for enjoyment as well as achievement. Congratulations on your new washer! And I love the method of cleaning/organizing one room at a time. Blessings to you!

  3. Laurie,
    Thanks so much for stopping by!! I am always amazed at all you do and I am a firm believer of doing one thing at a time…It is actually my favorite saying when my husband will come at me with a list of 20 things he wants me to do…I say “One thing at a time”!I do get distracted with my own projects because as I am doing one, I am thinking of 10 others to do…So at times, I too need to focus on one thing at a time…I hope you have a restful weekend even though I know you will be busy…

What is your experience? 💜 I read every comment, and so many times I find that I gain encouragement from what’s shared. ❤️