Avoid doing too many things at once

by Mary Ann on January 6, 2011

The 1% Principle – Comments. (To get a better idea of 1% principle, read Concentrate on one RIGHT thing for consistent improvement)

things to do list picture
This is so pertinent to where I am right now.  I fight the 100% Devil constantly, daily, every minute of every day.

In my head I have a To Do list a mile long, and that doesn’t include the things I need to do that I forget are even on the list!  I said to my husband the other night that I felt like I was drowning and that I just wanted to give in and sink to the bottom and find some peace.

I am still working on the same problems from over 20 years ago… I now know it is because I try to do too much at once and set myself up for failure.

I decided that my 1% is to have some parameters around my personal bedtime.

I know there are other areas where I need improvement, but as I see it, if I don’t fix this problem the others will at the least suffer in my attempts to be successful and at worst they will fail altogether.

I am hoping that if I get a good system down for sleeping (my RIGHT 1% for now) then I will have better luck when I add [other systems].


Thank you, Jody.  I struggle with all of the same things, and also notice that my journal entries repeat themselves year after year.  I appreciate your bringing the book [Raving Fans] to a personal level.  That gave me some great ideas on ways I might be able to apply and implement it in my own life.


… are you setting goals for changing yourself or others?  For example, if a husband wanted to improve the relationship with his wife, instead of setting a goal of having a date night with her every week, his goal would be to ask her out for a date night every week.  If he said his goal was to go on a date with his wife, but she didn’t want to go, then he couldn’t reach his goal.  If a person felt they needed to lose weight, instead of setting a goal of losing a certain amount of pounds or inches (which even though it is your own body you truly have no direct control over it), instead set a goal of exercising a certain amount each week and/or eating a certain amount of calories…These are examples of goals that you have no direct control over [and those that you do have direct control over].

So deciding to make a 1% change in your home that requires others to get on board and change too, may be impossible in some circumstances… But we can decide for ourselves to control our [own] habits and set the example, invite others to join us…

So my advice (for what it’s worth) is to make 1% improvements in your own actions, habits, weaknesses.  Especially at first.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew and don’t expect huge improvements at first.  Like Fly Lady says – baby steps.


I keep saying to my husband that this can’t be the way it is supposed toto do list picture
be. Life shouldn’t always feel like you are always behind, always
disappointing yourself and others, always with more to do. I feel like I
spend my days just getting through the day, and that’s REALLY far from my larger view of what life is for. I deal with whatever is urgent right at that moment.


…sometimes I am just plain old spinning too many plates at the same time.  Remember the old Ed Sullivan Show?  There is a limit as to how many plates we can spin at once.  If we have too many plates spinning we cannot truly spend enough time on all of them to do a good job on any. And many end up falling to the floor and crashing.

It is important that we decide which plates are vital and which are not.  Some plates may be important but not at this time.  We can spin them later when we take off some of the others that can only be spun now…

… I am determined to take my own advice and work to make a 1% improvement, while doing my best to stomp down that little 100% Devil that keeps trying to whisper in my ear that it is futile to try…I believe that is what is asked of us, to keep improving, little by little, as best as we can.


Here’s my example of the right 1% affecting everything else.

child with legos picture

I have 6 children, and my #2 son can be extremely contentious with both parents and siblings. He got really upset by something one of the other kids said the other day, so I went to talk to him about it. After things were smoothed over, I asked him what he and I could do together later. In my head I went through the 5 love languages and offered a suggestion from each (except gifts – he would totally jump on that, LOL). He wanted me to sit and look through his Lego catalog with him. Simple and easy! And he glowed the rest of the day. I already try to be present, but it was a reminder to me that especially this child, I need to meetthem on their turf and do what they’d like to do. Doing that 1% right helps the whole house be happier because his moods affect everyone else so much.


However the 100% Devil might manifest itself in your life, it will be one of the most dangerous and constant temptations you face and it will be the most constant enemy that you face through this process.  The 100% Devil will distract your focus, dull your ears and discourage your heart.  The 100% Devil will doom you to failure.

Remember, you’re the CEO of your family. Using the 1% principle, we periodically step out of the day-to-day management of our family, and we look at working “on” the family. We ask ourselves, “What’s the one thing I could do that would make the most difference?” Then we focus our efforts on making that one thing happen.

Of course, we’re still responsible for running a family! We’re still going to have to manage all of the issues and problems that we had before, but we have focused our vision on the one thing that we’re going to work on improving while we manage everything else.

Remember this truth, real growth comes from building on solid, consistent 1% improvements.

So, when you feel that 100% Devil whispering on your shoulder, take the lesson from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, and dash that little devil to the ground. Choose instead to recommit to your RIGHT 1% and trust that your real growth will come from building on that solid, consistent 1% improvement. Taken from The 1% Improvement by Jodie Palmer

If you’re interested in learning more about the 1% Principle, I recommend Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard.

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