One thing at a time

When individually we take in the whole picture of our personal life, we may feel overwhelmed. Some days, the mental to-do list coupled with the written one doesn’t seem to help us function efficiently or fast enough. If we add to that, life in general in this modern do-it-now, get-it-now age and its ever-enlarging global views and concerns, well, we might wonder why bother at all.  So many issues to consider, so much to do, so many choices, so many problems, so far to go before this or that happens.

Although we are encouraged to seek a clear and realistic view of ourselves, our lives, our dreams and our future, we must keep in mind that to attain any of the visions we conjure up and aspire to, we have to move wisely, carefully and precisely.

If we adopt and use the “One thing at a time” philosophy, especially when our day is stuffed with concerns and responsibilities, we could slide into bed at night more relaxed, more content, less anxious and less stressed.

The idea of one thing at a time sits at the foundation of many sayings that can give us comfort, clarity and courage for today, tomorrow and for each phase of our life’s journey.

One step at a time and One day at a timeare two of the more common features of the one thing at a time philosophy. Today let us consider four other aspects that help us to move one step at a time and live one day at a time

One thought at a time. It is impossible to think through every issue on our plate at the same time. When we do we operate on all mental cylinders, we expend mental energy and weaken our focus and diminish our ability to formulate correct assumptions and respond appropriately.  Consequently, we burnout.

Is this your experience, your habit? Is your brain stuffed with a myriad of thoughts that are jostling for attention? They may or may not be connected but by keeping them all active at the same time causes friction and you could find yourself tethering on the brink of overload and a breakdown.

You can train yourself to think one thought at a time and end your day feeling less anxious.

One problem at a time. Whose life is immune from problems of one sought or another? In fact, when one problem comes it usually seems to bring along others for the ride. Even when one problem begets another or each problem has multiple layers, dealing with one problem or one layer at a time is not only an efficient use of our time and resources, but it gives us time to breathe and get a fresh perspective on the problem or situation.

Granted that some problems are related and one solution may very well solve a few in one fell swoop. So here’s what I suggest. Unless solutions are staring you in the face, think through each problem individually – dissecting and examining it for solutions. As you move along, one problem at a time, you may very well discover that one solution can eliminate several problems.

One choice at a time. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Hardly a day goes by that we are not called to make at least one choice. It may involve major issues like a relationship, a work-related issue, personal matters (education, medical, transportation ), home improvements, family vacations etc. Or it may be simpler matters like what to cook, what to wear, wet the plants in the morning or evening, call mom lunch time or closer to bedtime.

When a choice you make can have serious repercussions, you should give it your most ardent attention. One choice can impact several areas of your life. Home and work situations may be compromised or enhanced. Family and friends may be sorely affected or enriched. For those reasons along, you should think through and make your choices one at a time.

One project at a time. Multitasking has its place in the home and at work and even in the miscellaneous commitments we take on from time to time.

Over the years, my penchant for multitasking has left me with a fractured toe, twisted ankles, knife cuts, broken dishes, cracked small appliance jars, to name just a few. Unfortunately, it is only when something slips out of my hand, slides across the kitchen counter, goes flying into the air and crashes to the floor, sending splinters everywhere, that I realize that multi-tasking is overrated for the tasks I have to accomplish.

When we are on a time crunch and other people are depending on us, we can feel pressured to step up our pace. We feel pressured to increase our output. We feel pressured to set out a stellar presentation. We multitask to speed things along, win and succeed. We multitask to save time and hopefully energy. We multitask now to gain some downtime later for ourselves, our relationships and for activities we enjoy – activities that demand and deserve a slower pace and no-pressure attention.

Multitask only when it is necessary. However, every chance you get, work one project at a time. Approach each task mindfully, intent on enjoying both the activity and the process.

How are you thinking, solving problems, making choices and managing your tasks? Alter the frantic pace you’re used to and try one thing at a time.

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