Pick Just One Thing

JasperOur dog Jasper arrived into our lives when he was eighteen months old and immediately proceeded to redecorate our house.

We called it the Milk-Bone look. Crumbs, pieces, and piles that resembled abstract art covered large swaths of the floor.

He quickly honed his process to perfection.

Take one bone, toss it in the air a few times, ignore the pieces that break off, then lie down and chomp with gusto.

He’d then step over the fragments all over the floor, trot off with the biggest piece to settle down elsewhere until boredom set in, whereupon he abandoned the Milk-Bone, and headed off for a nap. By bedtime he’d tackled several new bones as well as bits and pieces from prior days.

It’s your basic start and stop cycle – something most of us are familiar with as well.

Since Jasper was in the game for sheer fun, it was of no consequence whether he finished what he started. But that’s not true for most of the busy people I know … myself included.

As my client Stacy describes it, “I go through the day in a complete blur without ever feeling I can point to what I accomplished, and every day I feel a little more stressed and overwhelmed.”

In fact, she achieves a heck of a lot, including a consistent top ten ranking in a sales force numbering more than one hundred while juggling a full personal life that includes three children.

But it’s hard for her to feel productive when the day ends and she hasn’t completed much of anything she set out to do. It’s also not much fun, and it was beginning to take an increasingly high toll: think too many late nights, personal commitments going by the wayside, and a growing resentment towards a job she really likes.

So we ran a little experiment. For one week, she picked one thing to accomplish each day. Just one.

Guess what happened? Yup, she was able to get it done … every single day.

The simple act of starting each day with the question, “What’s the most important thing I can do today?”, helped her keep her eye on that specific ball and see it through to completion.

The experiment has become permanent. Her stress is down, her real priorities are getting done, and she’s an all-around happier camper.

If you find yourself in a similar situation – you start and stop a bazillion things, or just as bad, you never even start what’s on your agenda – try the just one thing experiment.

First thing in the morning choose the one task that’s most important to complete that day. And no cheating ;-). When I suggested this approach to my client Jenny, she tried to negotiate for three. Nope, it’s gotta be one, because that’s virtually guaranteed to be doable. And if it’s truly the most important thing, you’ll find a way to get it done.

Once you get started you’ll quickly see progress in what you’re accomplishing … and in living your day the way you want to live your life.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” ~ Albert Einstein

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