What is Your ONE Thing?

In all likelihood, you’re trying to be good at too many things. Trimming down your list of priorities can make you more effective. Focus your attention on the tasks that bring the most results.

What is the one thing that will move the needle in your life to reach your goals? Have you even thought about it? The one thing that matters is often challenging or unenjoyable, but you might have more free time if you did that one thing instead of the three other things you’ve been doing instead.

Focus on your one thing:

1. Everyone has 24 hours each day. Everyone has 24 hours, but how you spend them is up to you. Some people manage to build huge companies with their 24 hours. Others struggle to pay the rent. Some people create great health and happiness with their 24 hours. Others are out of shape and miserable. How do you spend your 24 hours each day?

2. Focus on what you should do, not what you could do. Most of us that have a daily list of tasks have both on our list. It’s important to figure out the things that are so important and impactful that they must be accomplished TODAY. All the rest move down to the bottom of the list.

3. Prioritize until you’re down to just one task. Prioritize even further. What is the number one thing you need to do today that will make the biggest difference? When you complete that task, what is the next most important thing. Keep going until you run out of time.

4. Have one thing you’re known for. What are you known for? Playing the piano? Installing windows? Your intelligence? Figure out your one thing and ensure the world knows about it.

5. Eliminate distractions. Distractions get in the way of focusing on your one thing. Be relentless in eliminating distractions.

6. Apply this process to all areas of your life.

  • What is the one thing you can do for the next month to most improve your health? There’s one thing you can do in your current situation to improve your health the most. It will probably help more than the next five things on your list combined.
  • What is the one thing you can practice on the piano to improve your playing the most over the next week? Or your golf swing. Or your reading speed?
  • What is the one thing you can consistently do at work to increase your value as an employee? What can you do that would help your company and career the most?

7. Be tough. The most important thing is often the least enjoyable. Squats are far less enjoyable than leg extensions, but far more effective. Joining Toastmasters is far less appealing than practicing your speeches by yourself at home. The one thing is often easy to identify but challenging to do.

What is the one thing for you? What is the one thing for each area of your life that will make the biggest difference? What is the one thing you need to do TODAY? What about this week?

Find your ONE thing, and you’ll see that little else matters.

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Following Your Anxiety to Beat Procrastination

In my last post I claimed that I had finally “figured out” how to schedule my time, and yes, that was true at the time (about a month ago). But I think I was a little too quick to make that kind of a claim.

Yes, I really did feel like I had my life under control just a month ago, and it felt great. I was productive, waking up early in the mornings, exercising, starting each day intentionally..

But that kind of “ideal” lifestyle gradually evolved into a less ideal one as the days and weeks went by. Hence the lack of new blog posts for a whole month.

The good thing is that I finally told myself tonight that I cannot go to bed until I’ve finished writing a new blog post. So here I am.

It’s actually very late at night, past midnight, but I knew that if I didn’t take action ASAP it’d be difficult for me to make progress on my big life goals. I believe that it’s worth making certain sacrifices (in this case, the amount of sleep I’ll get tonight) if you know you will not regret the results you’ll get from sacrificing some of your comfort. I just wouldn’t do it every day.

Just before I started typing up this blog post, I read a bunch of articles online that talked about time management, productivity, habits, and related topics.

But first, just a sidebar before I talk about what I just read…

It’s actually really frustrating for me right now as I’m typing these words because my thoughts aren’t flowing and it’s like my brain is stuck. It’s like some form of writer’s block, where my sentences are choppy and I wonder how I used to be able to write so much so often and my range of vocabulary words seems so elementary now.

That being said, I will still finish up typing this post because I want to respect myself and my already-made decision to finish this before going to bed. Actually I’m technically already in bed, using a lap desk, leaning against my pillow against the wall, looking forward to finally resting from the long day. (Note – I fell asleep right about here after I wrote this paragraph, so I actually finished writing this the next day.)

Anyway, one thing I thought was insightful and helpful from one of the articles I read was that if you find yourself procrastinating on something and you sense resistance or anxiety about the thing you’re procrastinating on, that’s a good indication that that is the very thing you should do first.

This makes sense to me because if you think about it, who in their right mind would “procrastinate” when it comes to watching their favorite shows? Netflix and YouTube have never struck me as anxiety-inducing, but rather, they have a way of helping us numb away the scary “real” things that we should actually be working on. 

But after that numbingly wonderful Miranda Sings video is finished, you’re back to square one: overwhelming huge mountain of intimidating task giving you anxiety and way more stress than you need (not that you ever “need” stress).

Let’s look at it from the other side: you’re about to procrastinate by doing something that seems productive such as wiping down your kitchen counters (why not), or taking some papers out to the recycling bin to help you “declutter” and “organize.”

So you proceed to “take care” of these good, productive tasks, when deep down you know you will still have to face that looming project you’ve been avoiding. Despite all the little tasks you get done, your stress level rises, you’re less happy, you’re more irritable, and any ounce of motivation that was in you leaks out.

Then you continue to look for petty (but oh so productive) tasks. Maybe you even plan out an ambitious schedule for yourself for the next week to complete that project of yours. And then maybe you don’t even follow the well though-out, ambitious, color-coded schedule that you labored so diligently on.

Meanwhile, you’re MORE stressed, MORE unhappy, MORE irritable, and EVEN MORE unmotivated. And this vicious cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Does this sound familiar????

My point is, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about something that you’ve been putting off doing, that’s probably an indication that it is a very important task or project that needs your undivided attention right away.

So if you’re feeling anxious right now about something you know you have to eventually do, my suggestion is to “follow” your anxiety right to its source and face it head-on. Make that a priority and just start.

In most cases, starting is the hardest part, but once you’re fifteen minutes (i.e. the time it takes to get into the “flow” – I read that somewhere) into it, you’re in the zone, you finally make some progress (however little it may be), and you experience a decrease in stress and irritability, and an increase in happiness and motivation.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. 🙂