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Choose at least one thing to do well each day. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Choose at least one thing to do well each day. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)


What will you do well at work today? Add to ...

This is part of a series looking at microskills – changes that employees can make to help improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Registration for 2017 has now closed. Winners will be announced at a conference in Spring 2017. Sign up to receive an e-mail about registration for 2018 at www.employeerecommended.com.

What’s one thing I want to ensure I do well today?

Sounds like an easy question, but it’s one that many of us simply don’t answer. We wake up and get on the treadmill of life that shapes our day. The demands of life and work influence decisions and actions that often result in changes to plans and priorities. This can leave us feeling fatigued and not quite sure what we accomplished, other than having survived the day.

If this sounds familiar, this microskill may be of interest to you. It’s based on the concept that less is more. The intention is to focus on one thing you want to ensure gets completed well each day. This might be spending quality time with your partner, eating dinner with family, having a good day at work, solving a conflict with a peer or completing a work task. The key is for the activity to have a clear beginning, middle and end, and be able to be completed in one day.


Pick one thing you’d like to accomplish that’s within your direct control and is not dependent on anyone else. It can be a work-related or a personal activity. You may find you will pick something you have wanted to do but for several reasons have not.

One reason could be procrastination. It’s not uncommon to pick a task we struggle to accomplish with the hope that by naming what we want we will get, such as eating healthy. At the core of procrastination is a struggle for self-control and not considering how failing to complete a task today will impact how you feel tomorrow. If procrastination is a potential roadblock for you, it’s helpful to get a baseline by completing the procrastination quick survey. If you find procrastination is a barrier this may be something to focus on to improve. Ultimately, what you pick should be something you can do with the resources and skills you have right now.


Confusion around the difference between hoping and doing can prevent you from accomplishing even one thing each day. Hoping for a result puts the expectations for success on others or the environment. Doing is taking control and being motivated to complete a task. For this microskill to work you need to pick one thing each day that you’re ready to act on with a specific plan. The benefit is that you can be sure you have accomplished one thing every day. With accomplishment comes good feelings that can promote self confidence and improve your mental health.


An action plan’s success depends on being clear on what, how and when it will be done.

My one thing action plan

1. Today my one thing will be: ________________.

2. Quality check – Require three yeses to move on. If you don’t get three, change your one thing:

a. I have the knowledge and skills to complete my one thing – Yes or No

b. My one thing’s success is totally dependent on me – Yes or No

c. Completing my one thing is a positive accomplishment – Yes or No

3. Time requirement – Validate that you have time to complete your one thing.

a. It will take me ___ (minutes/hours) to complete.

b. I plan on starting at ____ and being done by ____.

4. Evaluation of benefit – At the end of the day, reflect on your accomplishment. Acknowledging and recognizing accomplishments helps to reinforce habits. There’s no work here except to take a second to recognize that you did what you said you would.

Finding the moments where we accept and acknowledge that what we have done for ourselves is of value is important. Many spend a great deal of energy focusing on what they’re not doing or don’t have.

When practiced daily, this microskill can help you take control of your life one decision at a time, doing one thing at a time. Mental health is influenced by what we think and believe. Believing we can do one thing well each day is a foundation that can be built on.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto. He is also the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp, in Kentville, N.S.

This series supports The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell’s Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

This award recognizes employers who have the healthiest, most engaged and most productive employees. It promotes a two-way accountability model where an employer can support employees to have a positive workplace experience.

You can find all the stories in this series at this link:http://tgam.ca/workplaceaward

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