How To Get Things Done

There is a pile of unfolded clothes on my bed from last week’s laundry. I look at it, sigh, and move on doing other things. I keep putting it off because there is too much clothes to deal with. Then the next laundry day comes and the pile keeps on getting bigger.

I thought why do we even need a cupboard for clothes anyway, since we can just pile them up on the bed and rummage through them whenever we need something to wear. Thankfully, this dilemma doesn’t happen all the time. I do fold the laundry and organize our clothes in the cupboard. 
But it feels like the cycle keeps on repeating itself. Every time I do the laundry, I would skip the folding because I feel like it’s too much work. Seeing the pile of clothes is demotivating. Procrastination is the easiest solution; just act like you don’t see it and preoccupy yourself with something else. 
The thing is, that pile of clothes is there and will remain there unless I do something about it. It is a big pile that is difficult to deal. But maybe that is the source of the problem.

I see a pile of stuff.

When you perceive a pile of anything, it would seem big. But a pile of anything is just a group of small things. A pile of clothes on my bed is nothing more than individual clothes clumped together. Realizing this, I decided to take action.

I no longer see a pile, I see individual clothes.

I start by taking out one piece of clothing and fold that. That’s it. That is all that I did; I folded one piece of clothing. I have the freedom of choosing any piece I want. If I am feeling a bit lazy, I might choose the smallest one. But if I am feeling generous, I might pick the bed sheet.

That is all that I did. Pretty soon I feel a momentum slowly building itself in front of me. I realize that folding one piece of clothing isn’t that bad. So I folded another one, and another one, and another one. I might fold one shirt, call it a job well done, proceed to doing other stuff, and then when I pass by the individual clothes again, I fold another one.

This process carries on and on, until the pile was gone. To be honest, I was quite surprised. Not because the pile is now gone, but because of how easy it is for me to think that the task was too daunting to begin with. It was surprising how much a simple switch in mindset could affect my motivation.

This is a simple example that happened today. Similar examples could be happening to you, in whatever area in your life: that pile of paperwork in the office, that pile of assignments that need to get done, that pile of dishes in the sink, that pile of whatever!

Stop seeing it as a pile and start seeing it as individual things. Then, finish the task by simply dealing with just one of those individual things. Just one. Don’t think about the rest. Just focus on doing one. After you have done that, only then do you move on to doing another one.

But just do one. Just one.

This concept doesn’t have to only apply to tasks. It can also apply to change. Many people want to change many things about themselves, but they quit before the battle starts because they see the change as a “huge pile” in front of them that they need to deal with. It can be a demotivating view to behold, so they take the easy way out – just remain the same.

But change is the only constant in life. We constantly need to change, since we constantly have something that need changing. But change doesn’t have to happen all at once. That pile doesn’t have to be dealt with in one sitting. Change can be gradual, and it should be gradual. Do one thing at a time.

Just like the hijab story that I told a while back, about how a woman I know began her journey into wearing the hijab and becoming the fully, properly covered Muslim woman she is today. She didn’t grab a blanket and covered herself in a heartbeat.

No. She simply did 3 things:

  1. Start with one small thing. Just one.
  2. After that is done, only then did she move to another one. Just one.
  3. She repeated step no. 2, until the whole pile is gone.

It all starts with doing one thing.

Just one.