You know the feeling when there are not enough hours in a day, you are always behind trying to keep up with personal, job and home chores. If you would need a single management tip that was to help you to accomplish more and feel great at the same time, here it is: Making progress on one thing a day. That one thing that matters to you, the top project of the day.
I have been using this method for years in many situations not knowing that this is a science proved technique. One morning a video suggestion came up on my YouTube channel: “Focus on one thing a day! Mel Robbins“. It caught my attention, and from the entire video, I would say this one and a half minute of her speech is worth watching. Mel Robbins is the author of “The 5 Second rule” book and a very successful motivational speaker.
The Progress Principle
I learned that being focused on something every day is called ‘The Progress Principle’. To feel that you are making progress on something that matters and makes you happy, successful, and fulfilled. The nice thing about it is that you do not have to be a powerhouse pushing forward 5 things at once to have progress. Because by having small wins you can feel the sense of accomplishment and the confidence to get things done. And it is not just a feeling, the results are measurable.
We are most effective if we feel like we are making progress and are getting things done. Making progress on one thing a day does exactly that. As a result, to focus on one thing a day is empowering.
We all accomplish a lot more than just one thing in a day, but often those are things that are routine and do not make us feel like doing anything. Or those are things that we do reactive, not proactive. These tasks make us often feel stressed. Depending on our situation there might not be much that we can do about it, things just come up, but we can choose one project that is not just something that comes up, but something that we want to do, that matters to us.
How to find the one thing a day
Days can be busy and slipping by so quickly with every day tasks like laundry, making dinner, picking up the mail, etc. Even though there is always something to do, it can feel like there is no accomplishment.
Looking at all the tasks and projects that need to be done, and it can be a long list, what is the one item that would matter to you the most? The one that would make you feel accomplished? The one thing that is a top priority. Work on that one project preferably first thing in the morning and see how you feel.
In The 5 Second Journal Mel Robins suggests that we also write down why this top project matters, because this way we are more likely to focus on the project we want to accomplish. Now that you know what your top priority is, find this one action that you can do today.
It can also be something that you really do not want to do but it still needs to be done. Remember one can do almost anything for 15 minutes a day! Set your timer and work on it, and if you do it every day, you might be surprised at how fast it’s completed.
If every day you do something that helps to achieve your goal, you will feel that you are getting things done. It will make you happy and confident to keep doing it.
Getting things done on the homestead
On the homestead in the summer my top project is to grow, harvest, and preserve food. I can not do all this in one day. In fact, things don’t grow and ripen in one day either. Nature is teaching us that plants take time to grow, but there has to be a little progress every day.
In the middle of summer when the raspberries are in full production, picking the raspberries and freezing them for winter is often my one small action of the day, to achieve my goal to harvest and preserve food.
Our raspberry patch produces at peak times about an ice cream bucket of raspberries a day. That’s not much one would think to feel any progress in storing enough food for the winter. But by doing it every day we pick and preserve most of the raspberries we consume during the year. And we eat raspberries almost every day. This simple example has empowered me to freeze bag by bag a big portion of our harvest.
Canning is another example of how empowering ‘making progress on one thing a day’ is. If we can just one canner filled with 5 jars a day, then in 10 days we will have processed 50 jars of home canned food.
Bigger projects can be divided not just by days but also by years. If you start just one garden bed a year, in 5 years you have 5 garden beds.
You get the idea, right!?
Making progress on one thing a day without thinking much about it was very helpful for me. However, I will be more focused now that I’m more aware of the power of it.
What is it for you that you want to focus on? Start with just one thing a day and see where it leads you.