How to make life work for you with Just One Thing

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

Just One Thing can be a game changer if you are feeling overwhelmed and like you have too much to sort through. Sometimes we just have so many things going on it can be hard to keep on top of everything. Or we end up trying to do everything and end up tired, stressed out and unsatisfied. I used to get really frustrated at not feeling like I was doing anything well, or feeling like I wasn't up to it because I couldn't do it all. My husband was the one who gave me the best advice, and it turned my whole approach around.


As soon as I started doing this I began to have a much healthier outlook on life, and am more able to deal with unexpected situations as they arise. There are still things that need to be done but I feel more in control of them now. Here's how to make the most of it and why it helps you to be happier.

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

It puts a spring in your step

As part of my morning routine I wake up and think about the one thing that I want to achieve that day. Sometimes they are big time consuming tasks; more often they are smaller tasks that are important. Doing this one thing will have added value because it means other areas of life will run more smoothly. I combine this with positive thought - "this will get done and it will feel good". This is usually my first minute on waking, and it really is what gets me out of bed with more energy, and frankly happiness, than before (where I was dragging myself out, complaining of being tired, overstretched and so on).

It gets the important stuff done

Now, although this is part of my morning routine, really some thought goes into this the day before. I am now at a point where I habitually think about the day ahead, and what will be the best thing to achieve in that day - whilst driving home, brushing teeth, taking off make up. All those little pockets of time I usually think in. I think about my day, what went well and going ahead...

  • what is urgent?
  • what is important? 
  • what needs real time and thought given to it? 
  • what will make a big difference to my workload?
  • what will make a big difference to other people?
  • what do other people need from me so they can do their jobs more effectively?

More often than not the answer comes quickly enough, and it usually things that fall in the urgent/important category. It actually is often the kind of thing that is unpleasant to deal with, and that I would rather not have to do at all. I find the more unpleasant it is the more important it is usually. These things don't like being ignored; they fester away getting bigger and meaner, and like to create new problems as well. This does not make me feel happier.

But, just getting on with it does. It makes whoever else is involved happier too, and easier to work with in future. It means I won't be dreaming about it but glad I dealt with it. I am one of the world's best procrastinators, and this strategy helps me just get it done now.

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

Sense of self

If you are trying to do too many things, and keep too many people you can start to lose yourself within the whirlwind. By focusing on just one thing a day you begin to untangle your priorities. This isn't just about identifying one thing at work that will make you more efficient, you also need to think about the rest of your life too so there is a healthy balance. Doing this means that you start to become aware of your priorities in life; what is important and what is unnecessary, what deserves time and energy, and what is just a distraction.

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

What you do will be better

If you aren't partly doing lots of things, you can do one thing well. Focusing your energy on just one thing means that although you might think about the rest of your list in passing, you know you don't have to think about it. The list will get done, when it is the right time. Right now this one thing gets the attention, and you can keep coming back to it until it is finished. Even when it is done I tend to step back and think 'have I really done my one thing?' because I am not coming back to it, and it's all that is important today. Tweak here and there, and accomplishment all round #winning!
If you are doing one thing to your best then you don't have to worry about being terrible/not up to it/whatever because you are doing your best already. And that is all anyone can ask.

Stop sweating the small stuff

The small stuff doesn't make the list. The small stuff gets invited to the after party, when all the big stuff has taken the limelight. Getting round to the small stuff is a bonus after having done your one thing. It's almost a treat, because it doesn't have to be done, and doesn't need your whole attention.

Dodge the fireballs

Every now and again other people come along with their own problems. These are like fireballs, clearing their own path and making everybody focus on these instead. Nobody wants to hold on to a fireball because it's dangerous, and often people are eager to get rid of them. Don't let other people's problems become your without good reason. Toss the fireball back (not 'I'm not dealing with that' but rather 'What do you think is the best way for you to deal with this?'). It will soon fizzle and let you get on with what you need to. Your list will stop getting torpedoed by others.
Very occasionally fireballs do need to be put out immediately, and if this means that your one thing doesn't get done it's okay because clearly this was an armageddon sized fireball with wide devastation levels.

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

You will realise how much you are doing

When you have done your one thing you become aware of everything else that you do after and in addition to it. It is incredibly satisfying to appreciate what you have managed to do that day, and it makes you feel much more positive about the ever growing list of things that haven't been gotten to yet. Clearly you are doing a good job. Praise yourself. Have a coffee.

inding happiness how to take control of your life focus your energy stop feeling overwhelmed

So, there you have how Just One Thing can help you take control of your life, and ultimately feel happier about it. Some people naturally do this but I had to learn it. It really made a big difference to my life, and if you feel overwhelmed or anxious, give it a try. Or if you have any other helpful strategies leave a comment below!

I'm making life work for me with Just One Thing from @petitepassions blog #lifeboss Click to tweet it!

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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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