One and Done is About Making Decisions that Make Life Easier

The Term ‘One and Done’ is About Trying to Reduce the Decisions We Make in a Day Because Everyday Life is Exhausting.

According to Frank Gaff, a reporter at UNC-TV, we make over 35,000 decisions per day, which is a decision every two seconds of our waking hours. Of the 35,000 decisions, 227 are on food alone. No wonder we’re tired!

With one and done it’s about making fewer decisions. Making a decision once and that’s it. No more making a decision about that again. But let’s get real, making 35,000 decisions and those becoming 34,999 is not going to make us less tired. Of course, it’s not, but we need to consider that making fewer of them, plus trying to do that on those decisions that take some effort, is where the sweet spot is.

Wearing the Same Clothes Each Day – Some Geniuses Did

There are a host of famous people that have worn the same clothes each day. They wanted to pare down the decisions they made each day to free up their minds for the big stuff. Einstein, Zuckerberg and Jobs are just a few to have made the decision that their wardrobe was A. Not important enough to make a different decision about each day, and B. Took just too much energy to be worthwhile. Personally, I like to choose something different to wear each day, but that’s not the point. The point is about choosing. Choosing to reduce the number of decisions you make by deciding on what is important and what is not. What takes too much effort for the return and what is worthwhile taking the effort.

The decision I hear more people like you and me doing is to have the same meal twice a week. Choosing what to have for dinner each night takes real effort. By making the decision to have the same meal twice a week we have reduced the number of decisions by 1/7. That’s 52 fewer decisions made in a year. Now, for a foodie that would be the wrong decision. It’s definitely horses for courses. For you and I, maybe not.

The Origin of One and Done

One and Done is mainly found in sports. Like someone winning a gold medal. The origin of the phrase is rooted in the NBA (National Basketball Association of America). The NBA introduced a new rule in 2006 whereby players had to be at least 19 years of age, or have completed one year of college. This meant that they had to of applied for one year of college even though they knew that it would not be completed. The rule was designed to prevent athletes from entering the NBA after leaving high school until they were a little more mature.

In business people talk about one and done projects which relate to doing the project right, not having to revisit it, and then moving on to the next. You can see the phrase start to take hold in business from 2020. The Google Trends graph below shows the growth of the interest in this phrase. The rise was probably as COVID started to challenge our ways of working, people were more working from home more and companies needed things to be one and done ever more so.

Google trends graph for the term 'one and done'

Variations of the Naming of ‘One and Done’

Some people are also using ‘Once and Done’ or ‘Won and Done’.

Whilst ‘Once and Done’ is probably more accurate, it doesn’t roll off the tongue so well and therefore ‘One and Done’ has stuck better. Rhyming is important as a mnemonic because it helps us remember. Something Eminem embraced:

‘Float like a butterfly, I’m gonna sting like a bee, you ain’t harmin’ a thing.

I hit a ding hard as I’m gonna swing.

I’m gonna need to put my arm in a sling.

But like a wedding band, you gotta be diamond to even climb in the ring.’

‘Won and Done’ rhymes, yet the phrase loses its original meaning. Einstein didn’t wear the same clothes each day to win that decision or because it made him win the day. He did it because it was one less decision to make so that he could use the energy he had to make better decisions on more important things. Maybe winning those other things.

Using this Phrase in a Sentence


‘This project is one and done. We don’t revisit it. We fix it and move on. Right first time’.


‘Yep, that should put an end to that debate because with the final answer it is one and done’.


‘Let’s make this meeting one and done. I want to crack this problem together in this room in the time we have and never come back to it’.


‘We need to settle this argument once and for all. One and done, together. Ready?’

The meaning of one and done is to get it right first time, use less energy on that thing, and not come back to it.

Using this Phrase as a Rule for Life

Some couples are applying this rule to parenting. Having one child only. Since the 1970’s families have typically had two children. With the onset of mental health, working parents, and stress, one child for many wanna-be parents is enough. One and done can be applied to your family planning too!

Meredith Shirk, a physical trainer, has adopted the one and done principle with a 7-minute workout that is completed once per day for 2 weeks. This S.I.T. (Sprint Interval Training) apparently achieves great results.

Some companies are even marketing their products as one and done. Turtle Wax is just one example of a brand that is using the phrase to communicate that once you use their product, you don’t need to come back to the same problem. With their product ‘one formula provides unique abrasive technology that allows you to safely correct and finish any paint surface without switch products’. In essence, use this and A. You don’t need to use any product, just this, and B. That’s it done. Problem sorted.

A black Hybrid solution bottle and one and done compound

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