How to Eat an Elephant

Questions:  “How do you eat an elephant?”

Answer:  “ One bite at a time.”


As you’re unlikely to ever need to eat an entire elephant, this is seemly useless information.  But as a metaphor for organizing your home and your life, it’s profoundly helpful.

Even the most calm and rational among us is occasionally guilty of hand wringing and making a mountain out of a molehill.  There is almost no project or task that can’t be successfully tackled, “one bite at a time”.   When we break a huge project into chunks, it becomes more “digestible”.

The recipe for this is pretty simple.



Clearly identify the problem or project.

Note the “cooking time”- what’s your deadline?

Gather tools/supplies necessary to start the project.



Simply stated, begin!  The first “bite” is the hardest.  Don’t think about all the subsequent ones.

It’s like the old Chinese proverb, “ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  You might surprise yourself- the first bite wasn’t so bad and you realize you can manage another.  Before you know it, you’re well on your way to finishing whatever “elephant” is on your plate.

We waste so much time worrying about how impossible or onerous a project will be, that we work ourselves into a tizzy.  Next time you feel overwhelmed or harried, remember the elephant.  It’s big, and tough, but even so, you can polish it off, “one bite at a time.

If you continue to struggle with one bit at a time, you may want to consider joining us on Thursday for our kick of Lunch and Learn series.  Good luck with whatever your elephant may be!

2013 Lunch and Learn Series

Thursday, January 24th

A New Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

-Presented by Robin McCoy, Simplicity Organizer

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”  Ben Franklin  

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Mark Twain.

Are you in Franklin’s camp or in Twain’s? Most of us are somewhere in the middle, but wherever we are on the continuum, we’re all driven by habits.  We’ll discuss procrastination and what it’s costing you.  We’ll look at the science of habits- how we form helpful ones and how we can break self-defeating ones.  Guidelines for establishing and maintaining order in your life will be shared.

Thursday, February 14th

Organizing Your Small Business

Angie Mattson, Owner of Your Organized Guide (

You’ve heard the clichés about being a business owner – you wear so many different hats and you’re constantly juggling all the balls.  At some point, your small business feels like it’s running you! In this session, we’ll uncover the Five Essential Business Systems ™ which eliminate your overwhelm, create time and give you control of your business (and your life) – all without losing your mind. You’ll also gain a clear understanding of how business systems positively impact your bottom line.


Thursday, March 14th

Organizing Your Papers

-Presented by Anne Steppe and CPA-Nesha Pai Singer (

Taxes season is here! Simplicity has partnered with CPA financial specialist, Nesha Pai Singer to review record retention guidelines, answer looming tax related questions, and help you streamline and create a new paper archival system. What to keep and what to purge will be discussed, as well as systems for “taming the paper tiger”.  For an additional $5, you can bring personal bags of shredding.  A ‘SHRED-IT’ truck will be on-site to professionally shred your documents.


Thursday, April 18th

Rightsizing Your Life

-Presented by Robin McCoy, Simplicity Organizer

Have you had a shift in your family or living situation? Do you anticipate a major life event- retirement, becoming an empty nester, welcoming home a boomeranger, selling the big house?  If so, this session is designed for you.  We’ll use Rightsizing Your Life, by Ciji Ware as our springboard.  (You do not need to buy or read the book in advance.)  The emotional and psychological challenges of major life changes will be our focus but plenty of practical suggestions and strategies for weathering such a change will also be discussed.


Thursday, May 16th

Getting Organized for Family Travel

-Presented by Anne Steppe and Andrea Gill, Simplicity Organizers

Does getting ready for vacation exhaust you?  If so, learn some easy and practical techniques for planning, packing and “battening down the hatches” for departure.  Preparing for family travel by car and by plane will be addressed and specific suggestions will be offered for packing for spend-the-night camps.


Thursday, June 6th

Organizing for College

-Presented by Catie Eller, Simplicity Organizer

Yes, summer’s just begun, but mid-August will be here before you know it.   Start your preparations now to avoid any last minute hassles.   Emphasis will be on both organizing for academic success and for peace and harmony in the dorm.  If you have packing lists and suggestions from college, please bring them along.  This session is geared for both students and parents alike but either can attend solo. 


Thursday, August 29th

Creating Systems and Routines for the New School Year

-Presented by Catie Eller and Laurie Martin, Simplicity Organizers

The sand has been shaken out of the beach bag and now it’s time to concentrate on the book bag.  With the tips and strategies we’ll offer, we can help you start off on the right foot.  Emphasis will be on managing busy schedules and establishing routines.  We will also cover setting up a homework area, buying supplies, organizing the book bag and packing healthy lunches will be covered. 

Thursday, September 19th

Organizing to Create a Closet of Personal Style

-Presented by Laurie Martin and Whitley Hamlin, Owner of the Queen City Style (

Is your closet stuffed to the gills and yet you never feel like you have anything to wear?  If so, this session is for you. Organizer, Laurie Martin, will offer tips and strategies on organizing the keepers and how to thoughtfully donate or consign the rest.  The style maven, Whitley Hamlin, creator of the Queen City Style, will show you how to streamline your wardrobe and develop your personal style. Get ready for a whole new you!

Thursday, October 17th

Hoarding: The First Steps to Recovery

– Presented by Dr. Andrea Umbach, psychologist at Southeast Psych and Founder of the Charlotte Anxiety Consortium (

Simplicity Organizers observed the extreme emotional, psychological, financial, and mental effects of a diagnosed hoarder                        when they worked on the television show Hoarders, hosted by A&E.  Hoarding stories are often fascinating to listen to or watch on television,  however when you or a close friend is struggling with hoarding, you experience first hand the devastating effects.  This session is appropriate for anyone who would like to better understand the serious impact of hoarding. Dr. Andrea Umbach, who specializes in the treatment of hoarding and anxiety disorders, is passionate about assisting others in their quest toward improved functioning by learning new skills and making positive changes in one’s life.

 Thursday, November 14th

Organizing for the Holidays

Presented by Anne Steppe

The holidays…they’re back!  If last year’s decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping and gifting left you exhausted and stressed, this year can be different.  Learn how to focus on what really matters and let the rest go.  Tips will be offered on time management, setting priorities and the nuts and bolts of streamlining your holiday traditions so 2013 is your best holiday season ever.


Cost:$25 per person if you register on-line.  $30 at the door.

Free for all Junior League members who register through the JL membership site.

Each attendee is encouraged to bring gently worn clothing items for men, women, or children.  These     items will be donated to the Junior League Warehouse.


What to bring: A salad topping to share.

Expensive To Worthless

“Things have a way of going from expensive to worthless pretty quickly.” That was my husband’s innocent comment as he helped me unload a bolt of Belgian linen leftover from reupholstering some chairs.

coinimageAnd expensive it was. The estimate of the necessary yardage clearly over shot the mark. S
o the extra, which I’ll probably never use, will take up space, grow old, dusty and faded and eventually be tossed. That’s the sad tale of how imported linen went from expensive to worthless in the space of a few days.

My expensive to worthless mistake was the result of haphazard planning.

Odds are you can think of things in your life that fall into the “expensive to worthless” category too.

From Simplicity associates…

“The daring fashion must-have that doesn’t suit my age, body type, personality or lifestyle. The thrill of the expensive purchase quickly faded to reality. What I’ve bought I’ll probably never wear. And worse, every time I pass over this item in favor of something that really suits me, I get to feel bad all over again.”

This expensive to worthless wardrobe mistake was born of fanciful thinking.

“It’s much easier (and cheaper) to kindly decline to take an item in the first place than to make the hard decision to part with it. I speak from experience. I am the owner and keeper of Grandma Rose’s wedding china. Mind you, I never met Rose, it’s not my taste and it’s not in particularly great shape. But, I accepted it years ago because it was purported to have been the best of the best. How could I turn down this expensive gift? I purchased padded keepers and lidded containers to store it in my garage….Yep. Sucker.”

And this expensive to worthless lesson arose from guilt and unwillingness to admit that just because something was meaningful to someone else, it’s not meaningful to you.

It is much harder to let go of something (even if you don’t like it or use it) than it would have been to never acquire it in the first place. Getting rid of things makes us sadder than their acquisition made us happy.

So what’s the lesson? Beware of imprecise planning, fanciful thinking and unfounded guilt. And, be very careful about what you buy because once something makes the team, it’s painful to cut it from the team. “Expensive to worthless” mistakes go a long way toward explaining why our wallets are so thin and our houses are so cluttered.

By Robin McCoy, Professional Organizer, Simplicity Organizers