Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just One Thing

Have you ever had a period in your life when doing anything beyond the survival tasks, like washing clothes or grocery shopping, just seems impossible? Sure you have. Well, I just discovered a way out of that miserable state of inertia.

Whenever I get up from reading or writing, my main activities nowadays, or anything prolonged, I look around and find one thing I’ve been putting off doing and do it. I’m calling it my Just One Thing program. I know it sounds ridiculously simple, but here’s why I think it’s working for me.

I have a formal, computerized (on Excel) to-do list. The last time I checked it had 102 tasks listed on it. ONE HUNDRED and TWO tasks. That’s ridiculous but they are all valid and need to be done in the near future. These are not everyday chores. This is an inventory of all the steps I need to take to accomplish my many goals, and since I come up with a new plan, another project, every week, it just keeps getting bigger.

Here’s the thing; I absolutely need to do all this stuff. That thought is more than overwhelming for me. It feels as if I’ve been hit by a tsunami of jobs and I’m trying to find a coconut tree trunk so I can climb to safety. I don’t think I’m unusual either. Listening to my sisters and mother, as well as friends, I realize they all have tons of stuff to get done. They, normally, just do them, but like me they have times of errand overload.

As I was lying in bed, reading a friend’s book on Kindle about a week ago, I glanced around my RV, in which tasks greet me constantly as there is nowhere to hide the overflow, I thought, “Oh, crap. There’s so much to do, I’ll never get it all done.”  I almost went back to my book, but then I heard these words, “Just do one thing.”

No, I’m not hearing voices, but often my thoughts are so clear, it feels like I hear it out loud. Anyway, I decided to wash the dishes. Afterwards, I did one more thing – washed my car. Hmmm, I noticed there was a bunch of leaves on the driveway so I swept them up and trashed them. Amazing! I didn’t feel tired or annoyed or overwhelmed; instead, just a little bit proud of myself. I did three things, just one at a time.

This morning, under the same theory, I sewed a button on a blouse that has been sitting on top of a “To Fix” pile for nearly six months. Other tasks followed and before I knew it, I’d put away a number of things I’d been meaning to find room for in a cupboard and I'd tossed out a bunch of things that should have been sent to the garbage bin long ago.

I know the idea of “one thing at a time” has been around forever, but here’s the difference for me; that phrase implies all the rest of things that needed to be done. “Just one thing” doesn’t. That one thing stands alone and each one thing is then a victory. At least in my head, and really that’s all that matters. I’ve started working on two stalled novels again and a new one, but just one thing (a sitting) at a time. The little tricks I play on myself work. Maybe this one will help someone else, which is the whole reason for writing about.

Okay, now I’ve done my one thing for the moment. Tag you’re it.

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