Yes, I meant that to be capitalized. The One Thing.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I have low (minimal, really) energy (am I coming down with a cold? did I overdo it with productivity last week?), and yet I have all these things that I want to do — need to do — that range from Great Art (working through the How to Revise Your Novel course, writing a new story, blogging about this journey) to Basic Life Maintenance (making dinner, taking out the trash, cleaning the house, exercising, sleeping).

And that’s to say nothing of all the other things that I want to do (learn to play the ukulele, create a container garden, divine the art of making sourdough bread).

All of these needs and wants build up, and then because I have minimal energy, I get overwhelmed. I get so caught up in all the things that I want to do, to accomplish, that I end up doing nothing. Nada. And then I feel terrible because OMG LOOK AT ALL THE TIME I WASTED I AM SUCH A TERRIBLE XX <insert role — writer, wife, friend, etc.>.

Sorry, that was my lizard brain. It shouts at me. A lot. I try to remember to beat it back with a stick.

A stick like “The One Thing.”

The One Thing is the one thing that, if it was the only thing you did today, would allow you to declare the day Good Enough. You made progress on something, moved the ball forward even an inch, and can feel good about yourself/your project.

This “One Thing” concept is really helpful for those of us who tend to be productive (once we can get over inertia), because “Hey, I did my One Thing. What ELSE can I do today?” is a common result.

It’s also incredibly helpful for establishing limits. I’ll talk about limits soon, because I loves me the limits. Seriously.

Give it a try. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing I could do today that would make this day satisfying?” or “What is the one thing I could do today that would move (my project/art) forward?” Try it with your workplace, your home, your relationships, your art. See where it takes you.

Need another example or some inspiration? Check out “The One Thing” by Gary Keller, and take a look at Tim Ferriss’s “Productivity Hacks“.