I did one thing today, and I feel accomplished

Do less to get more meaningful things done

Riikka Iivanainen
2 min readOct 24, 2023

I did one thing today.

I did one thing today, and I feel happy and accomplished.

Had I tried to do five things, or even three, I probably wouldn’t have finished anything. So I just focused on doing this one thing today.

Photo by Abyan Athif on Unsplash

It’s so easy to get lost in meetings, 53-item to-do lists, ad-hoc Slack messages, and email threads. It’s so easy to get through an entire week having done nothing of value.

So what if you didn’t try to do everything? What if you did a lot less? And what if less meant one thing per day, one thing done very well?

This is a mindset and practice that works — at least for me. I try to carve out two to three hours of continuous focus time every day and get one meaningful thing done. If my calendar is particularly empty, I might have two of these sessions, but rarely more than that.

Today, that one thing was analyzing four customer interviews. I reached my goal. Now that, if anything, felt good.

Tomorrow, I plan to create a draft for a new landing page.

If I continue like this, I’ll have done at least five meaningful things by the end of the week.

And while I’m doing these tasks, I don’t do anything else. I don’t check email or Slack before getting started. I’ve turned off all notification sounds and pop-ups. Because I know that content switching is very, very unproductive, I guard my focus time like a watchdog.

And no, I don’t actually just do one thing per day. I do small snack tasks, I prepare for meetings, I attend meetings, I go through Slack and email. But I don’t start with those. I start with that one important thing.

I also don’t want to fool myself by counting in those other things. Because those other things don’t require deep work. And deep work is the thing that matters (read or listen to Cal Newport if you don’t believe me).

I like getting things done. So I do less. And I start with just one thing.

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Riikka Iivanainen

Content designer & user researcher fascinated by the human mind and behavior. I study (social) psychology for fun and love to tell stories—even the small ones.