Do Your One Thing Everyday

Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff

I’ve long been a big proponent of picking one thing to focus on and doing it every day, but recently I met someone who really exemplifies this technique.

A Photo a Day

Trey Ratcliff runs Stuck in Customs which is the #1 travel photography blog on the web. I’m sure there are a ton of photography blogs, so how does someone get to be #1? Because he provides a gorgeous photograph every day — including weekends and holidays. Here’s what he has to say about this:

My promise to you: one photo every day. This is very hard… to produce 365 photos that I think are worthy every year. I will probably break this promise about 10 times during the year, so it’s really not much of a promise.

He jokes that he won’t get to it every day, but from a quick look at his blog, he’s been posting a daily photo since roughly 2005 and he hasn’t skipped many days. And I’m not talking about quick photos of your kids or the dogs. I’m talking about true pieces of art worthy of framing in your house. For example, see the photo at the top of this post and imagine creating something like that every single day. It’s no wonder that his site is popular.

Everyday is Easier than Every Other

Gretchen Rubin of the The Happiness Project thinks that it’s actually easier to do something everyday than every few days:

A few days ago, I observed that it’s often easier for me to do something every day than to do it some days. I post to my blog six days a week. I take notes every day. I write in my one-sentence journal every day. Many people have told me that they find it easier to exercise when they exercise every day.

If I try to do something four days a week, I spend a lot of time arguing with myself about whether today is the day, or tomorrow, or the next day; did the week start on Sunday or Monday; etc

I have to agree with her. There’s something powerful about doing your one thing every day. You just can’t help get better at it and there’s no internal debate about whether today is the day you should be doing it.

The Best Street Sweeper

But what if your one thing isn’t that glamorous or you can’t get paid to do it? What if you love to run or draw? Can you still do it everyday and will it matter? I think you can create great art in whatever you do as long as it is a daily ritual and you do it with love. Martin Luther King jr. said it best (as usual):

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

As for myself, I’m trying to do a little bit of writing or programming every day in an attempt to improve my craft. How about you?