Why You Should Just Do the Next Thing

What do do?!

When you’re wringing your hands and crying, “I just don’t know what to do!”, let me tell you what I do. I  just do the next thing. I remember days of feeling despondent and lethargic when depression kept me from being able to focus on what was important.

Even though I wrote about this before, I forgot I had written it! I went back and looked at the other post. I discovered that one has a spiritual application. This one pertains to the practical. Both come from someone who told me, “Just do the next thing.”

It was one of those frustrating-I’m-getting-nowhere days. My problem was that I was looking at everything that needed to be done. I was frustrated, and I didn’t know how I was ever going to get things accomplished when I had no energy to move forward.

That statement became my lifesaver. “Do the next thing.”

The bed got made. The kids got dressed. I got dressed.

There! It was a start.

I looked to find the next thing. Believe me, I didn’t need to look far: a sink cluttered with dishes and a trash can overflowing with garbage and its odor. So I emptied the trash. Then I cleaned the sink. I wiped the counters. In three small steps, I had done the next things.

It wasn’t so hard to look around and see what needed to happen next. It wasn’t necessary to focus on the other ten things waiting around the corner. I focused on one next thing.

Inch by inch

I didn’t move mountains or scale trees. Yet, by mid-morning, the world was brighter and my outlook was different. Maybe, just maybe, I could make it through this day!

It worked that day. In fact, it’s the only way I made it through the day. It’s worked every day since then when I’ve implemented “doing the next thing”.

Whether it’s cleaning a house, planning a meal, fixing supper for my kids, preparing for guests, or dissolving a grudge; when I focus on doing the next thing, it’s not insurmountable.

Changing Focus

The problem is, we focus on the ton of dirt that needs to be moved instead of focusing on one shovelful of dirt at a time. We don’t always need to move the entire mountain in one day. Taking a few shovelfuls off the pile at a time diminishes the pile and eventually, it will be gone.

We focus on a day of laundry instead of folding one load. Mending ten pairs of jeans instead of one pair.

We focus on a disheveled house instead of cleaning one toilet.

We focus on kids whose day is spent quarreling instead of focusing on one reconciliation today.

Our focus becomes the pounds we haven’t lost instead of recognizing the pounds we haven’t gained, or focusing on the next pound we could lose.

You don’t think you have time, or you’re too frazzled to sit for an hour to read your Bible? How about grabbing a quick pick-me-up and reading a few verses in Psalms for just a minute? That little taste will give you a hunger for more – even if you don’t have time at the moment.

On those days when depression or weariness wants to reign, don’t become bogged down with all the things left undone.

Find one thing you can do, then do it.

When you don’t know what to do or where to begin, stop and ask yourself “What would someone else suggest is the next thing that should be done”? Then do it. Just do the next thing.




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