The Power of One

“Do one thing at a time, and while doing it put your whole soul into it to the exclusion of all else.” ~ Swami Vivekananda

How many things are you simultaneously juggling right now?

At last check, I had six windows open on my computer. I be togglin.’ My messages are open on my phone so I won’t forget to reply to a friend (oh, hold up, I actually did forget to reply to someone earlier). I’m thinking about a blog post for next week. Should I spend today (the Australia Day public holiday) on the computer or making wedding decorations? I really need to get to the Post Office tomorrow to buy stamps for our invites. What about that e-book and blog redesign – practically, could I get them done in the first half of the year? Yes? Maybe? Who knows. Oh gosh, Dad, how long has it been since I called my Dad? The weekend – what’s on this weekend? Baby shower! A friend’s baby shower and a first birthday and I don’t have presents for either. Yikes.

Welcome to my brain. What a hoot. Sound like you too?

The truth is, a lot of us are maxing capacity right now. Our focus is off because we’re rushing/ toggling/ over-exerting/ adrenal-zapping all over the place and sadly, we’re often doing ourselves an injustice trying to do more than humanly possible in totally unrealistic carriages of time. It’s exhausting.

Here’s a proposal: 

Why don’t we get all wild and rambunctious and flip things on their head for a bit? What if, instead of doing a legion of things half-heartedly, we made the decision to hone in on one important thing every day, and committed – no matter what – to getting it done?

Revolutionary? Too simplistic? Impossibilité? Not if it’s taking you closer to achieving your long-term goals and making you happy and more fulfilled in the process.

Here’s the deal:

FOR SELF-ACTUALISATION: Define one important long-term goal and work on it for an hour every day.

Pull out your diary and have a good look at your goals. If you were told you could only choose one of them to focus for the rest of the year, which would it be?

I’ve started putting a number priority beside the tasks on my daily to-do list (1 is obviously the Most Pressing Thing and 10 is the Can Probably Wait stuff) which I’ve found to be really helpful to ensure I don’t get struck down with the dreaded Overwhelm.

Try doing this with your goals list until you identify the one goal that you’d most like to achieve in 2012 – then start chipping away at it, bit by bit. It’s as easy as that. 60 minutes a day for 365 days is equal to 21,900 minutes, or 365 hours, spent working on your exceptional goal every year.

Pretty impressive when you put like that, huh?

FOR GROWTH + INSPIRATION: Read/ watch/ listen to one thing that inspires you every day.

If you can, do this first thing as there’s nothing better than starting the day listening to an inspiring podcast, watching an awesome video online or reading a thought-provoking blog post that really gets the cogs churning.

My favourite resources:

Oprah’s Lifeclass videos

+ Cheryl Richardson’s podcasts. Cheryl interviews provocative thinkers whose work is changing the world in some way in her free podcasts (search her name in iTunes to find the list) and they’re super inspiring. My favourites are the interviews with Natalie Goldberg (author of one of my favourite books on writing ‘Bird by Bird), Louise Hay and Jackie Collins.

+ Gabrielle Bernstein’s podcasts and guided meditations – also free on iTunes – and her brilliant videos.

+ TED Talks (scintillating stuff!) My faves are Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on nurturing creativity and Brene Brown’s incredible talk on vulnerability and wholeheartedness.

FOR EDUCATION + ENLIGHTENMENT: Read one chapter of a good book every day.

If you’re anything like me and order new books like ink and paper stores are about to be completely annihilated, you’re probably a touch overwhelmed by the growing stack on your nightstand. No time, too many to get through, why bother starting – and all that jazz.

It’s all about chunking. Reading one chapter a day of a book with 15 chapters will have you finishing it in just over two weeks, and I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty manageable to me. There’s something insanely satisfying about holding a finished book in your hands and displaying it proudly on your bookshelf, so if you’re a book-fiend like me, make a little time to immerse yourself in those pages. Books open doors, in your mind and in your life.

FOR HEALTH + WELLNESS: Allocate one hour of ‘you time.’

Whether it’s to exercise, cook an amazing meal bursting with nutrients, meditation time, stretching out on the yoga mat, doing a top-to-toe beauty blitz, or doing whatever else replenishes your energy stores and brings harmony to your life, commit to it. It doesn’t have to be all at once – you might break your hour into halves or quarters – but it’s so necessary. We all spend a large portion of our time meeting the needs of others and it’s so incredibly important we pay ourselves the same respect.

FOR POSITIVITY + MAGIC-MAKING: Write down one thing to be grateful for every day. 

You might have noticed in my Making Me Happy posts that (on average) I post about seven things that have really stood out for me over the prior week. That’s the equivalent of one blessing per day, and I think we can all agree, on even the darkest of days, there’s always something (no matter how tiny) that we can send the universe a little ‘thank you’ for.

I loved reading back on my gratitude lists from last year when I was pulling together my 2011 in Review post and I can’t speak highly enough about documenting your daily joy. Added up over a year, that’s a shipload of pleasure!

Additional inspiration:

+ Choose one affirmation to guide your day/ week/ month. Great examples here, here and here – and I wrote a bunch in this post too.

+ Join the lovely Chantelle Elem’s Photo-a-Day Challenge – the February challenge is just around the corner!

+ Write one paragraph in your journal every night to describe your day. Detail how you felt, what you did, who you chatted to, what steps you took towards your dreams.

+ Decide that instead of trying to catch up with all your friends every weekend – racing here, there and everywhere – you’ll commit to seeing just one of your beautiful friends and give them your full, undivided attention.

+ What are your thoughts on ‘the power of just one thing?’ Do you agree that doing less and doing it well leads to greater achievement of your dreams?

Images: Faded from the winter | Live Now 

20 Comments to “The Power of One”

  1. I love the idea of numbering lists. It’s actually something I’ve always done. Once I’ve made my ‘to-do’ for the day, I then number the things to solidify the order of the day in my mind. I find this keeps me more on task!

    Now if I could just get the procrastination under control…

  2. I’m loving it too. I started putting a timeframe next to things last week when I was particularly busy (e.g; Write report – 10am) which took things to another level. So true what you say about it “solidifying the order” – I find if I don’t I end up doing bits and pieces of everything instead of focusing on crossing one off at a time. Thanks for your comment lovely xx

  3. I’ve started writing down three things that I need to get done each day/night. Just three. Those are my priorities–that is what I actually need to do/write/send/etc. Anything else after that is fine, but bringing things down to just three has seriously helped SO much! I’m also committed to a yoga class and a chapter in my book every day, and it’s really super satisfying and gratifying. Excellent reminder–maybe I’ll even manage to completely turn off my brain in yoga today and just relax!

  4. I just had to laugh out loud at myself. As i was reading this i was taking breaks to reply to my wedding florsit on another window, print out some drawings for work, spell check a report for a council submission & wonder if i could make it to my grandmothers this afternoon to pick up some half finished wedding DIY! Oh dear – maybe i really do need to read this article

  5. Thankyou sooo much for this post Rach, sometime it can be tricky prioritising when we think of all the things we “should” be doing, instead of simply doing what makes us truly happy. I have so many To-Do’s on my 2012 list that knowing that I have 21,900 minutes to dedicate to the most important goal is refreshing and not nearly as daunting :)…..and don’t worry, you’re Dad won’t mind if one more days slips past without a call :) x

  6. Christine: Love that idea! Most of the time, the rest of the stuff is superfluous anyway don’t you think? xx

    Sally: Haha, so much in common :) Sounds like the article came at just the right time! xx

    Alice: You nailed it when you talked about focusing on the things that truly make us HAPPY rather than all the other “shoulds.” Singular focus is super powerful! xx

  7. Amazing, as always!! This is just what I needed to read at the moment. Your words are like a soft place to land in the craziness of my to-do list at the moment.

  8. Fabulous post! I’ve just been saying to the girls in work how I’m really struggling for energy this week & getting things finished. The time is flying by but I seem to be on a go slow!

    Definitely a few tips here that I will be taking on board for the coming days :)

    Thanks a bunch Rach – hope you had a lovely Australian Day x

  9. Thankyou so much for this wonderful post. I’m about to move across the other side of the country with my lovely boyfriend and have made conscious decision to alter the way I live my life. I’ve recently subscribed to your blog and am sure you are reading my mind when deciding what topics to write about! Thankyou for being just the thing I need to help keep me focused on inspired to make the small changes that will spur me on. x

  10. Jess: Oh wow, what a beautiful way with words you have! I love: “Your words are like a soft place to land in the craziness of my to-do list at the moment” – brilliant! Glad you like it lovely xx

    Jenn: One thing at a time gorgeous. And guess what, it’s nearly the weekend! xx

    Jessica: Best of luck for your move across the country, how exciting for you! You’ve got it in one, the small changes motivate us to make the bigger changes (and hey, sounds like you’ve got that one nailed!) Good on you for making 2012 the year you make some changes to the way you live your life — would love you to pop back in and tell me how you’re going with everything xx

  11. Lovely post Rach, as always. Have you seen the new A4 notepads from Kikki K? They are for lists but they have four columns:
    – one for the task
    – one for the estimated time you think it will take
    – one for the priority of the task
    – one to check it off once it’s done.

    I got one and it’s so great. I go through and write everything I need to do for the next day, how long they will take (so I don’t overcommit) and then you go and number them. So when you wake up the next day you have a clear, easy to follow plan. LOVE it!

    Happy weekend xx

  12. Love, love, love this post! I seem to have a similar monologue inside my head and always looked for better ways to multitask. I actually never thought of the idea of ONE, this is new perspective to me. ‘Oh’ says the brain, ‘really? This is kinda cool!’.

    Also. This word ‘rambunctious’. Love it.
    Taking the daily podcast idea and totally modelling it!

    Sigh. This is a darn good post Rachel.
    (You make me want to write, really, you do!)

  13. Serena, how did I not know about these? *runs off to kikkiK immediately to purchase amazing notebooks* xx

    Ashleigh: And YOUR kindness never ceases to amaze me! Thank you xx

    Marianne: Oh I’m SO hearing you. Isn’t it funny how we always look for ways to do more, rather than ways we can simplify? And yes, I’m quite a fan of ‘rambunctious’ myself :) xx

  14. How is it that you always seem to take what I am thinking and make logical sense out of it?! I definitely need to have a bit more ‘focus’ in each day and direct my attention towards one or two things instead of just rushing around like a crazy person! I like how you’ve structured this so that it incorporates all of the important areas in life!

  15. Fantastic post! I spent time looking at my schedule only a few weeks ago which I reflected upon in one of my posts. This reflection actually gave me a huge wake up call. Some life changes are happening! You are so right…if you are going to do anything, do it well and with all your heart! Brilliant! x

  16. Katherine & PB: So glad this one resonated with you! And Katherine… I know what you’re thinking… right now… haha! That sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it?! xx

  17. Oh wow…as I was reading this post, I was resonating with absolutely everything you said…it is soooo true…thank you for writing this post, i needed to read this :)

  18. great blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a really nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it…..

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