Today most kids go back to school after the holiday break. For some reason that got me thinking about the book The ONE Thing that I read a while back. You see, school is sort of the antithesis to that book. In school you spend your day broken into a whole bunch of parts skipping around to various subjects. On the other hand, in The ONE Thing, the goal is to spend a good chunk of time (ideally four hours) on one specific goal, task or project. This allows you to become very focused and “in the zone” without getting distracted by other, lesser tasks. I have to admit that I completely buy into this idea. I know that when I get deep into a project, not only is it difficult for me to tear away, it’s also hard to focus on something else.

There’s just one little problem. Where do I get four hours every day?

My schedule? I wish. Maybe if I was single, with no kid, and no life.

My schedule? I wish. Maybe if I was single, with no kid, and no life.

I don’t know about you, but my day looks more like a school day than an ideal ONE Thing day. Yes, I have a flexible, set my own hours work schedule, but that just means that I can schedule my son’s therapy for whenever not that I have huge blocks of unscheduled time.

Granted, the book offers all sorts of suggestions for how to get your block of time, but they weren’t all that practical for me or any of the other writers that are writing as we can. So how can we still harness 1 Thing focussed thinking while still getting through life? Here are my ideas.

  • Try not to stop thinking.
    I had to take a shower half way through this post. I thought of the items on this list in there.
  • Get original.
    I don’t mean that your writing should be original — although of course it should be. Think of different ways to get your words on the page. Maybe you’ll have to start keeping stuff in a notebook or get a keyboard for your tablet. My husband got me Dragon Dictation for Christmas, so I’m going to start experimenting with dictating stuff while I cook or fold laundry or other mindless tasks.
  • Carve yourself out a niche of time. Then schedule it, notify others, and stick with it.
    Develop “food poisoning.” Tell your family you are not to be interrupted for anything less than the apocalypse, lock yourself in the bathroom, and enjoy 15-20 minutes of furious writing.
  • Leave yourself notes.
    Yes, in a perfect world we would get that four block, but the world isn’t perfect. We’re all going to lose time refocussing in on a project. However, we’ll lose less time if we leave ourselves a little note about where to start back up.

Of course, all of these ideas don’t mean a thing if you haven’t picked your one thing — not a goal, but the one thing you are so passionate about that your life would lose a little color without it.

For me, writing is my one thing for this year. What’s yours?