When Thoreau said most men lead lives of quiet desperation, I’m pretty sure he was talking about cleaning the bathroom. Or the mountains of laundry that loom menacingly on couches throughout the land. Or the 573 unanswered emails that glare at you accusingly every time you log into Outlook. I took some 300 level literature courses in college, so I know what I’m talking about. Trust me.
It’s very easy to convince yourself to do nothing if you feel like you are already failing. You had a donut for breakfast, so why bother with a healthy meal? You’ve already wasted half an hour playing Candy Crush or gleaning crucial information about what your friends had for lunch from Instagram or Facebook or clicking those fascinating links at the end of each Buzzfeed article you read. What are another few minutes? The laundry’s already languished in the dryer for two days. There’s no sense, really, in taking it out and folding it. Isn’t that what the fluff button is for? If you thought the fluff button was something else, you’ve wasted WAY more than half an hour clicking links. If you know what I mean.
Today, as I rushed between errands and drop-offs and work, I felt overwhelmed, as I often do, by the endlessly regenerating squalor of my home. I hate it, but I also haven’t got time for it. During one of my many trips to the bathroom to pee (ah, the gift of motherhood), the cluttered counter and splattered mirror suddenly felt INTOLERABLE. “Just this one thing,” I told myself. “I will do just this one thing, and then I will return to my regularly scheduled hamster wheel of tasks.”
I allotted myself ten minutes. I gave the floors, counters, sink, and mirror a quick wipedown. I emptied the trash. I chucked a bunch of expired bottles of mouthwash and half-used tubes of lipstick I will never again wear (Hot pink, self? Really? What were we thinking?). I straightened the towels. And then the timer beeped and I was done.
No matter what else happens or doesn’t happen today, I did just this one thing. And I can pee in tidy comfort. It is my anchor in a sea of uncertainty.
I highly recommend doing Just One Thing today. Pick something you can finish or at least stop in ten minutes. You’ll feel good. Way better than if you kept taking quizzes to see which Breaking Bad character you are or if you kept refreshing to see if anyone commented on your status where you made that joke about that thing. Go do one thing and then tell me about it. I want to know!
Photo credit: Milking It by JD Hancock is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.