Just Do One Thing —
Making small steps work for YOU

At this site you'll repeatedly encounter several terms: just do one thing, small steps, turtle-tracks—even personal kaizen. And each of those terms describes essentially the same thing. So, what if we look at what "just do one thing" (and company) actually encompass.

To get a sense of that, we'll use two handy examples: one relating to an ongoing task and the other to a state of being. For the task, we go to the kitchen, since we can usually find plenty of "ongoing" there.

In the Kitchen
Here, as elsewhere, the wingspread of the just-do-one-thing approach depends upon three things: your inclination, your quest, and the moment.

Just Do One Thing

Let's use kitchen maintenance to illustrate this point. And we'll assume, again for this point, that you want a clutter-free kitchen. For such a goal, "just do one thing" can go various ways.

Perhaps you decide that each time you enter the kitchen, you'll do one thing to keep it looking tidy. With this goal you've already you’ve made a start, however modest.

Moreover, you can choose from a variety of tasks. If you have a couple of minutes, "one thing" might be clearing the toast clutter from the counter. If you have almost no time at all, maybe you simply put the toaster away. If the toaster stays out at your house, maybe you put away the bread and butter. Doing one thing could also be emptying the entire dishwater—or merely loading your lunch plate and utensils.

Maybe it's wiping All the countertops, or wiping only one. The point to remember is that Just One Thing can be an entire task, or merely a single step within the overall task. Your time and inclination will determine which.

Feeling Calmer
Or maybe you decide to apply “just do one thing” to your goal of feeling more relaxed in general. For you, that might be to make your bed before you leave the sleeping area (yup, even before the coffee or tea). Just Do One Thing

I got this tip from Gretchen Rubin’s wonderful Happiness Project blog—thank you, Gretchen!

Seeing a made-up bed whenever I enter the master bedroom makes a surprising difference in how I feel myself. Perhaps it would do the same for you, giving you a great result from a very small step.

Just One Thing might also be to meditate for twenty minutes each day—or simply sit quietly for five. Here, the critical factor is not so much the form that "just do one thing" takes, but rather that you actually do it. That you simply take one small step you believe will contribute to your relaxation and peace of mind.

Your single and perhaps modest step can get you started on an entirely different path. So, go for a walk, listen to your favorite CD (while doing nothing else!), have a conversation with an old friend. Just do one thing; once you take that first step, you're on your way. But you do have to keep taking the steps.

The power of "personal kaizen" (or its buddies) lies not only in its small steps, but also in its simple question: what small thing can you do Now that will take you closer to your goal? Ask yourself that question every day—maybe even several times a day—and see what magic unfolds.

Don’t actually have a serious goal? Why not check out the free online course at our sister site. Divided into four sessions, this goal-setting tool allows you to set the pace yourself. If you work through it, you may be able to figure our what you Really want to be, do, or have at this stage of your life. Click here to go to the sign-up page.

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