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Do One Small Thing First

It’s hard to stay motivated every single day. My solution is to start doing one easy thing first. It’s my one step approach.

I’m always looking for ways to keep myself on track, doing the right work (the most important work) and to keep doing it every day. The most important work is the hardest work. It requires thinking, a clear focus, and no distraction.

It can be hard to get started. Procrastination is always an option. If you’re like me, you want to do the easy work first. It’s not that the easy work is more fun, but I want to do it – because it’s easy.

That’s why I never start with the most important work (the hard work). I always start with doing just one small step. This one (tiny) step gets me started. And once I get started, I always continue.

I could have forced myself to start with a really hard task, and know that it would take me several hours to complete (and be thinking about it many hours before actually going to start doing it). Instead I’ll start with one small step that I know will get me one step closer to the state of flow.

But, it’s important that I only do one small thing. I never start with more than one, before doing what’s important.

I start every ”small step” in a different way. It could be reading. Writing my daily journal. Planning. Meditating. Or, just walking, listening to the sounds close to me. But, I always know that it’s part of my habit. The habit to get myself to the next level.

Sometimes, you need an extra push.

Today, I needed a small step, just to be able to check my email. That’s why I decided to add a few extra thoughts to my daily journal first. Writing the sentences took me no more than 3 minutes, and because I wrote it, I was able to do the extra job of checking my email and replying.



10 responses to “Do One Small Thing First”

  1. Kai H says:

    I try to do the same. Works wonders. I have trouble sitting down in front of my computer when I’m outside enjoying mother nature in the mornings.
    Always tell myself that I just need to do one, single task. As soon as I get going I can’t stop.

  2. Danny Brown says:

    Hi mate, I feel you on the procrastination thing. Sometimes I put it down to prioritizing, others it’s simple laziness. 🙂

    I do like this train of thought, though:

    “That’s why I never start with the most important work (the hard work). I always start with doing just one small step. This one (tiny) step gets me started. And once I get started, I always continue.”

    Think it;s time for me to try that and see how it works. Of course, I’ll have to try and not procrastinate over prioritizing what defines small and less small. 😉

    • Hi Danny,

      This works for me, and I have been struggling with procrastination and prioritizing a long time. I still struggle with prioritizing, but instead of thinking too much about it, I just start with one small thing and keep going. Hopefully you’ll be able to do the same.

      Are you using a system for your to-do list?

      • Danny Brown says:

        Hi mate, not really – it’s still kind of a higgledy-piggledy scatterbrain approach, where I’ll do something when I remember to. I’ve tried using tools like Evernote, but find I never stick to them.

        So, for now, it’s randomness and remembrance. 🙂

        • It seems like you’re doing great using your method though. I’ve been testing many different systems, and at the moment I’m using Todoist. This way I don’t forget much, but I’m still having issues with procrastination and prioritizing (and not being lazy).

  3. Yes Jens, I use the pomodoro technique once in a while. Read about right here. The trick of doing one small thing first has become a regular habit. The pomodoro technique comes and goes. The method is a winner but I have a hard time using it regularly because I lose track of myself and time too often. To battle this I have also used Forest and planted trees but I can’t seem to keep doing it regularly. However, the key is to keep working on becoming more structured. I have a long way to go still. Thank God I’m young…just 47.

    • It’s the same with me Kai Henning. Only, I have been focusing on building habits, one habit at a time. I started adding my daily habits in “Todoist” (the software I’m using to track my to-do list and various projects). Then, I identified different triggers to help me start doing the tasks. For instance, I wanted to write for 2 hours each day, but I had a hard time to get started. I know that once I get started writing, I’ll keep writing for a long time. So, I started writing first thing in the morning, just after I made a cup of tea. This tea was the trigger to get me started.

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