The One Habit That Has Made The Biggest Impact on My Life

I was once asked by a friend to share the one habit that has made the biggest impact on my daily life. Without a second of a doubt I knew what the answer was. I started this habit when I was 15, a junior in high school, and have lived it every day of my life since, albeit in different variation.

The habit is weekly programming. Today I want to share how you can start to practice this habit of programming in your family. I will share the basic steps that I follow each week to program. I typically like to do my weekly programming Friday afternoon. This allows me to recap the week and prepare the next week so that I can go into the weekend and family time with peace of mind. This does not always happen but it is the ideal. Other people like to do this Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning. They key is to build the habit of doing this weekly.

The One Thing

I start by asking myself the question, “If I could accomplish only one things this week to feel more accomplished what would it be?”. Many times we feel overwhelmed or out of control in our jobs, family or personal life. As Jim Gaffigan says, “Imagine you're drowning, then someone hands you a baby.”  Yes- we all feel this way at times. But the reality is, by accomplishing one or maybe two things we would feel a lot better. So start with one. Write it down and in parenthesizes next to it write down how long it would take. If it would take longer than 1 hour to accomplish, then break it down into smaller pieces to get the first action under an hour.  An example of this could be: Send an email to Katie’s teacher (20 mins) or Order flowers for my wife (10 mins).

Brain Dump

The next thing is to perform a brain dump. You want to write down and consolidate all the thoughts, to-dos, want-to-do and wish-to-dos that are floating around you head and driving you crazy. You want to get it all out so that you can think clearly. When I do this I typically start by consolidating all the things that I wrote down over the past week. Post-it notes, napkins, notes on my iPhone, I also go through my email box. You could just make a list of these items or you could organize them. I like to organize my list by roles that I play in life. So before writing down each task I ask myself does this fit under Spouse/Father, Employee, House, Youth Minister, etc. It helps me to keep things ordered. You could also organize it by Urgent items, Important items, Some-day-maybe items and things-I-should-probably-not-do items. Don’t worries about how you write them down for now, just get them out of your head and onto paper.

Review My Calendar

The next step is to look at your calendar. However you keep your calendar (on your phone, computer or on the wall) you should be writing things down that need to be done on specific days. My wife and I keep our calendars on our phones (so they are always with us) and we use them in our weekly family planning session to compare and make sure that we are on the same page. You want to review your calendar to ensure you are prepared for any events that you have that week.

Schedule The #1 Task

The next step is to put in the one thing you want to accomplish this week that you discovered in step one. If it takes an hour then write down on a specific day and time when you are going to do it. It may be Monday at 10:00 AM I am going to send that email to katie’s teacher. Or Order flowers for my wife at 2:00 PM on Tuesday. Whatever and whenever it is put it on the calendar.

Break Up My Task

You then want to break up the tasks that you want to accomplish that week from your to do list into specific days. Depending on your work and the type of task you may have to put specific take on specific days and times. But the key is to divide them out over the week so that you can accomplish a hand full of task on each day. If you want to get very specific with days and times that is fine. I like to leave the day open so that I can react to things that come up and not get thrown off my schedule. This will depend on you own circumstances.

Just Do IT

The final step is to just get started. The hardest part is the first task of the day. I like to start with a really easy task; maybe the task that takes the least amount of time so that I have a “win” right from the beginning. Being able to check off that box will make the day much easier to conquer.


So here are the steps that I take each week to be highly productive:

1.       Write down the #1 Task I want to accomplish this week.

2.       Brain Dump: Write down all my to-dos and organize them.

3.       Review my calendar.

4.       Schedule my #1 Task.

5.       Distribute my task for the week over each day.

6.       Accomplish the smallest task for a quick win.