Just Writing About the Word “Just”

Illustration of a dictionary

Last year I read or heard someone talking about the word “just”, and how it’s used as a qualifier.


“I’m just calling to see if…because…”

“I’m just emailing to let you know…”

“I’m just going to…”

The person explained the power of removing the word “just” from sentences, and how it breathes confidence into them instead. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to reduce my use of the word.

It’s been over the last… I want to say four or five months? That I’ve been experimenting with reducing the word “just” from my sentences when it’s used as a qualifier, and it has absolutely had a positive impact on my confidence.

The first and simplest adjustment was reducing use from written text. What made it simple was that there was always a moment to check for if I used the word anywhere as a qualifier, and then I could remove all instances before hitting “send”, “post”, or “print”.

Next up, the second adjustment, was and still is reducing the use of the word within my inner dialogue. Imagine I’m doing chores and in my mind I say “I’m just going to wash this load of laundry first”… now at the outset, the use of the word in this context felt benign. Then I imagined the sentence without it. “I’m going to wash this load of laundry first”. The first sentence felt like I needed permission to do that task first. Why do I need permission to do that task first? Permission from myself? So now, by dropping the qualifier, I can confidently move forward with the task, and it reduces my assessment of if I made the right choice of task to do first. I still catch myself regularly throwing the word “just” into sentences in my mind of course, and it’s ok since I know I’ve made improvements overall.

Finally, and most difficult to implement, has been the third adjustment of reducing the use of “just” when speaking to others in person or over a call. The reason this has been most difficult for me is by the time the word is used, it’s also too late. It’s very difficult to course correct in the moment. With this one I tell myself to focus on acknowledging when I do or don’t use the word “just”, and celebrate when I am successful to help build the habit of reduced use.

In conclusion, for me dropping the word “just” has been an opportunity to review if I believe in what I’m saying or doing. If I’m not prepared to communicate something without the word, then is there something I need to re-asses? Am I doing right by the other person if I need to say “just”? Am I doing right by myself if I need to say “just”? It’s evolved from an experiment to developing a positive new habit, and I welcome any of you reading this to correct me if you see or hear me using the word moving forward.

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