My One Big Thing Experience So Far

by Anne Wayman

one big thingLast week I read an essay that I can’t even find about tackling one big thing every day. The idea has been around for awhile. There’s a book and at least one app.

The notion is that if you work on One Big Thing a day, preferably at the beginning of the day, you won’t end the day feeling you’ve accomplished everything but what’s important to you.

Another way to say it is do at least one big thing every day that truly moves you in the direction you want to go. (I really must either find the essay or read the book – sigh).

So I decided the video class on getting your book written is the One Big Thing I want to accomplish. My plan was to begin Monday, but I wiped out to the worst migraine I’ve had in months. So I gave myself a pass.

The computer gods must have been listening

I got up this morning and when I got to the computer at 7, doing my numbers was easy – less than 10 minutes. Then I tried to log into this site to write an article. Google and Firefox denied me entrance, and maybe denied you too, because my security certificate stopped working. It’s supposed to renew automatically, but something went wrong – I could hear the representatives from computer ssl certificates chuckling as I dialed my host, Blue Host.


Normally I get in pretty quick, but there was no answer, so I also opened up a chat window. That line answered first, but for the very first time since I’ve been hosting there I got the wrong information! So I called again. Long long story short I got the Dillon, a tech who knows his stuff – we’re not sure what got snarled when, but he stuck with me as I created a special email address, contacted the folks who issue the certificate, got the renewal verified and was assured that this sort of nonsense was unlikely to happen again. Total time spent on that fix, and adding a security certificate to the video class site (dirt simple) took 3 hours, maybe a bit more.

My faith in BlueHost was totally restored even with the delays.

I put my one big thing on hold

I couldn’t get into this site for about an hour, so I went shopping – certainly more exciting than waiting for a website to load, even though I didn’t spend much at all.

When I got home, I decided I simply had to do some promised work for a client, which put me in tech support for his site! That was followed by a telephone conference with said client and after I hung up I realized I was really upset. I talked that upset through with a friend, and although some adjustments do need to be made with that client relationship, it’s not nearly as bad as I first thought. Whew.

I remembered my one big thing

I was ready to go to bed and eat cookies when I remembered my one big thing. “Could I,” I wondered, “actually get done what I thought I needed to do today?”

I hesitated because it involved a call to yet another tech support outfit. I made the call, got a call back as promised and the whole thing was a cakewalk. I felt like I was being restored. So I fiddled with the design of new business cards.

Notice what’s happening. I started to work on stuff that is bedrock important to me. More important than client work, more important than finding new work, just plain more important than most things I do.

It could be, and I’ll report down the road, that doing one big thing every day sets the day up for real enjoyment.

Why the elephant? Who can resist an elephant. And they are big! I really don’t want them to disappear from the planet.

What’s your one big thing? How often do you work at it?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer




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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Chehrenegar June 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

When you are just starting a project, it is hard to know how much time any one task might take. I like to get an early start, but I am not always aware of how long any particular task might take.

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Anne Wayman June 21, 2017 at 7:23 am

Sue, that’s why I often time myself… using toggl.com… helps me have some idea of how much time stuff actually takes.

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Bill Swan June 16, 2017 at 2:13 pm

I thought the elephant was a nice add to the post myself.

I’ve got something similar to this post in my life. I pick three things to get done this day, and I only worry about getting those three done and only today. It isn’t usually writer related, but it helps. And I often succeed if I verbalize those things out loud or write them down in my morning journal. The rest of the day seems to go easier.

Lately I’ve tried to get one gardening task / yard task done each morning. It doesn’t need be the entire project, just a part of it. Emails to potential gigs is another similar to this – get one email sent daily. Done.

Life seems easier to handle this way.

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Anne Wayman June 21, 2017 at 7:25 am

Yes, that’s an approach I’ve heard about from other people. Glad it’s working for you.

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Robin Johansen June 15, 2017 at 10:40 am

Sounds really smart actually. For me, personally, I got a to-do list as many do. But even if I check of a few points each day, there is even more added… It keeps growing. Sure, it could be just for the moment, but it can feel overwhelming at times.

PS: And I am usually the one adding new stuff to my to-do list…

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Anne Wayman June 16, 2017 at 7:09 am

Robin, I have the same problem… one thing I like about todoist is I can push stuff I don’t want to lose, but won’t get done soon, into the future – a week, a month… whenever I think it’s likely I’ll have time for it. https://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2017/05/03/todoist-hit-lists-freelance-writing-productivity-cure-lost-projects/

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