One freaking thing at a time — a simple strategy for being a productive powerhouse

Alex Mathers
3 min readOct 4


Picture a box of juicy oranges in front of you.

You have been set the task to peel them all. How would you do it best?

Well, one orange at a time, with a sharp knife, you say.

Correct. I’d do it the same way too.

But most of us try to pick up as many oranges as we can. When we hold a handful and try to peel them, we end up dropping several.

Sometimes we find ourselves at the end of the day, surrounded by dropped, un-peeled oranges. We tried to take on so much that we didn’t do anything. We never found enough purchase to hold on to any one orange.

We need to think of our daily tasks as oranges.

Each one of them requires a firm grip, without being distracted by any other orange.

We’d also peel that orange with a sense of enjoyment, flow and a hint of indulgence.

So take on one orange at a time. One task at a time. And find a way to enjoy it.

I don’t know about you, but my biggest issue has always been trying to do too much. A fleeting source of enjoyment came in the idea of finishing everything.

And of course, this meant rushing through my tasks, doing too many things at the same time and failing to complete much at all.

Now I think in oranges.

I think in fifteen-minute chunks of dedicated activity to one thing.

You can do the same.

Or ten minutes (plum).

Or five minutes (chestnut).

Ask yourself:

What is the ONE thing I will do in the next fifteen minutes that would be the best use of that time?

Now do only that. If it needs longer, add another fifteen.

Don’t rush. Indulge in the idea that nothing can distract you in this little time-block.



Alex Mathers

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