There’s Only ‘One’ Thing You Have To Do

We have a lot of work to finish, a lot of issues to resolve. The to-do list, the things that need to completed at home, seem to grow exponentially. But there’s actually only one thing you need to do.

I used to be part of the group who composed to-do lists only to be crushed underneath the weight of its burden. After doing a little bit of this and that, I would inevitably realize by evening that a lot of things were only halfway done even though my body was thoroughly exhausted. It was only when I learned to focus on one thing that everything changed.

Some days my to-do list can be joyously short, other days exhaustingly long. It is exactly on these days that I correctly distinguish a priority hierarchy and focus on the first task. I say to myself, “this is the only thing I need to do.” One single thing. Nothing else. I don’t look at the rest of the list, don’t allow it to muddle my mind and soul. I often allocate a specific amount of time to really complete this task. While some are more productive with this system, others become passive due to stress. I fit into the former category. Of course it wasn’t easy to master the ability of focusing exclusively on the task in its allocated timeframe. Even now there are things irritating my mind or aiming to break my concentration, but I try not to give them credence, focusing on my one task as much as possible instead. And when the day ends, the feeling of having accomplished many tasks awakens an invaluable sensation of ease and joy. There was only one thing I had to do, to write this post. And now I can move on to the other ‘one thing.’


PS: For support on this journey I greatly recommend Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book The ONE Thing.


Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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