TThe market for self-help and productivity improvement books is evergreen; there is always a new technique, a new theory and a new ‘workbook’, to help you achieve more.
This time, I review an interesting book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, meant for those who want to achieve extraordinary results in any field.
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is a productivity book based on a simple premise: If you want more – more productivity, income, satisfaction, time – you need to go small and want less.
I’m sure you can guess what that is – focusing on your ONE THING!
Gary takes things much further and provides a lot of practical tips and strategies to identify your ONE THING and eliminate distraction. This book was a fantastic read and one that I believe will help people achieve bigger and better results in their lives.
The book focuses on a few key points, including prioritization, goal setting, and the superiority of single-tasking over multitasking. Most importantly, the book teaches you one of the most powerful questions you can ever ask yourself.
Lack of Direction Is The Problem
The ONE Thing is the best approach to getting what you want.
Where Gary has had huge success, he had narrowed his concentration to ONE thing, and where his success varied, his focus had too.
When you want the absolute best chance to succeed at anything you want, your approach should always be the same. Go small.
It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.
You should be aware that the ONE thing that you should be focussing on isn’t always clear.
rule of thumbThe logic of ‘one thing’ is obvious but not until someone explains it to you.
If everyone has the same number of hours in a day, why do some people achieve more? The heart of their approach is to get to the heart of things. While keeping the big picture in mind, they focus on the smallest thing, here and now.
Most people think just the opposite. They think big success is time consuming and complicated. As a result, their calendars and to-do lists become overloaded and overwhelming. Success starts to feel out of reach, so they settle for less. They get lost trying to do too much and in the end accomplish too little. Over time, they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small.
case studyGary gives the example of the Star Wars franchise. What makes most money: the merchandise or the movies? Well the answer is the merch! But does that make Star Wars merchandise the only thing the creators need to focus on? Nope. Movies are the ONE Thing because they make the toys and products possible.
The ONE Thing has been the key to success for individuals and companies alike, whether it is Google, Starbucks, Microsoft and Intel.
🍎 Apple towers above them all. Its extraordinary ONE Thing continued to thrive while it created another extraordinary ONE Thing. From 1998 to 2012, Apple’s ONE Thing moved from Macs to iMacs to iTunes to iPods to iPhones… Those lines, plus others, continued to be refined while the current ONE Thing created a well-documented halo effect, making the user more likely to adopt the whole Apple product family.
The Domino Effect. The key to success is figuring out your ONE most important thing in your business/career/life over the long-run. Think of this as your “someday” goal. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to identify how many dominoes you need to line up – and then knock down – in order to achieve it. The challenge is that life doesn’t line everything up for us. So every day you line up your priorities anew, find the lead domino, and whack away at it until it falls.
The Secret Sauce Is 80/20
Pareto At The Rescue
If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, basically the 80/20 principle states that 20% of your actions will produce 80% of the results that you’re after and that no actions are equal; no actions carry the same weight.
Prioritization, the 80/20 principle, and the idea of success versus to-do lists all come down to this simple truth: Not all activities are equally valuable and not all activities bring about the same rewards. This goes back to the idea of “being busy versus being productive.”
In fact, most to-do lists are actually just survival lists—getting you through your day and your life, but not making each day a stepping-stone for the next so that you sequentially build a successful life.
rule of thumbGary tells us we don’t need a To-Do List, we need a Success List — a list purposely designed around your highest leverage activities… how do you find your highest leverage activities? By using the good old 80/20 principle.
The prescription is simple. Focus on the few things that truly matter. Identify the 20% that create 80% of the results. And then take those 20% again and narrow it down even further – until, ultimately, you have one domino to focus on. Then, go about knocking over that domino.
The Pareto Principle For Dummies
Time Is Your Best Asset
In order to ensure that your ONE Thing gets done, the authors suggest that you time block your time off, your ONE Thing and your planning time.
The authors propose that you time block your ONE Thing as early in the day as possible. And here comes the most uncomfortable piece of advice: you need to allocate four hours a day to your ONE Thing.
The next thing is that you protect your time. Until your ONE thing is done—everything else is a distraction!
According to the authors, there are four thieves of productivity:
warningWe live in a world where there are so many distractions, there are so many things, like social media and phone calls and text messages and so many things competing for our time and our focus that it’s become increasingly challenging for people to focus on one thing.
Most work environments are NOT conducive to productivity. Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions. Takeaway: create some kind of system where you are left undisturbed to focus on a task for a solid chunk of time each day.
Juggling Is an Illusion
warningMultitasking is a lie.
When you try to do two things at once, you either can’t or won’t do either well.
It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.
When you switch from one task to another, voluntarily or not, two things happen. The first is nearly instantaneous: you decide to switch. The second is less predictable: you have to activate the “rules” for whatever you’re about to do.
Opposed to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t make you more productive, it makes you less productive. Task switching exacts a cost few realize they’re even paying.
Every time you try to do two or more things at once, you’re simply dividing up our focus and dumbing down all of the outcomes in the process.
warningAnd the loss in productivity is by all means not the only issue with multitasking. Multitasking leads to mistakes, poor choices, stress, and low productivity.
Honour your time. Time waits for no one. Push something to an extreme and postponement can become permanent. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.
The One Thing Cookbook
Viewed wistfully as a noun, balance is lived practically as a verb.
warningA balanced life is a lie.
In your effort to attend to all things, everything gets short changed and nothing gets its due. When you gamble with your time, you may be placing a bet you can’t cover.
No matter how hard you try, there will always be things left undone at the end of your day, week, month, year, and life. Trying to get them all done is folly. When the things that matter most get done, you’ll still be left with a sense of things being undone—a sense of imbalance. Leaving some things undone is a necessary tradeoff for extraordinary results.
To achieve an extraordinary result you must choose what matters most and give it all the time it demands. This requires getting extremely out of balance in relation to all other work issues, with only infrequent counterbalancing to address them.
rule of thumbWhen you act on your priority, you’ll automatically go out of balance, giving more time to one thing over another.
Discipline Is My Cocaine
Success is actually a short race—a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.
You can become successful with less discipline than you think, for one simple reason: success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.
When you do the right thing, it can liberate you from having to monitor everything.
So here’s the trick if you want to create a habit — you’ll need to use your will-power/discipline juice in the beginning. This is hard. But keep at it. According to research, it takes, on average, 66 days to develop a discipline into a habit.
Those with the right habits seem to do better than others. They’re doing the most important thing regularly and, as a result, everything else is easier.
Overloading Is Misleading
When we tie our success to our willpower without understanding what that really means, we set ourselves up for failure.
warningWillpower is always on will-call is a lie.
The more we use our mind, the less minding power we have. You make doing what matters most a priority when your willpower is its highest.
Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle that gets tired and needs rest. It’s incredibly powerful, but it has no endurance. So, if you want to get the most out of your day, do your most important work—your ONE Thing—early, before your willpower is drawn down.
What You Ask Is What You Get
rule of thumbThe Focusing Question can be used in a variety of ways. You can use it to create a vision for your life, you can use it first thing every morning, you can use it throughout the day, you can use it to set goals, or you can use it to prioritize.
Answers come from questions, and the quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question. Extraordinary results are rarely happenstance. They come from the choices we make and the actions we take.
Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it. The Focusing Question is that uncommon approach. In a world of no instructions, it becomes the simple formula for finding exceptional answers that lead to extraordinary results.
The 3-part break-down of The Focusing Question
This first part of the Focusing Question is about taking action… it’s not the ONE thing you “should do”, or “could do”, or “would do” — but the ONE Thing you CAN do. The word “can” implies action, as opposed to others, which imply intention.
This part of the question lets you know you’re about to get specific. It means that you’re about to take action on something that actually has a purpose.
This final part of the Focusing Question is about LEVERAGE. It says that when you do this ONE Thing, everything else you could do to accomplish your goal will now be either doable with less effort or no longer even necessary. For example: hiring an assistant to handle your calls and emails is a levered action that frees up the time you used to put into calls and emails, thus making it easier for you to focus on growing your business.
Listen To The Oracle
When you ask a Great Question, you’re in essence pursuing a great goal. And whenever you do this, you’ll see the same pattern—Big & Specific. A big, specific question leads to a big, specific answer, which is absolutely necessary for achieving a big goal.
If you want the most from your answer, you must realize that it lives outside your comfort zone. The research and experience of others is the best place to start when looking for your answer. A new answer usually requires new behavior.
rule of thumbThere is a natural rhythm to our lives that becomes a simple formula for implementing the ONE Thing and achieving extraordinary results: purpose, priority, and productivity.
Your big ONE Thing is your purpose and your small ONE Thing is the priority you take action on to achieve it. Our purpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce.
The most productive people start with purpose and use it like a compass. They allow purpose to be the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions. This is the straightest path to extraordinary results.
Purpose has the power to shape our lives only in direct proportion to the power of the priority we connect it to. Purpose without priority is powerless.
By thinking through the filter of Goal Setting to the Now, you set a future goal and then methodically drill down to what you should be doing right now.
When you’re clear about those two, you’ll become a more Productive person. And when you become a Productive person, you produce more value in the marketplace.
If it’s a onetime ONE Thing, block off the appropriate hours and days. If it’s a regular thing, block off the appropriate time every day so it becomes a habit. Everything else—other projects, paperwork, e-mail, calls, correspondence, meetings, and all the other stuff— must wait.
Purpose without priority is powerless.
The farther away a reward is in the future, the smaller the immediate motivation to achieve it. Connect today to all your tomorrows. It matters.
Productive action transforms lives.
The most successful people are the most productive people. The most productive people, the ones who experience extraordinary results, design their days around doing their ONE Thing.
Resting is as important as working.
Visualizing the process—breaking a big goal down into the steps needed to achieve it—helps engage the strategic thinking you need to plan for and achieve extraordinary results. In one study, those who wrote down their goals were 39.5 percent more likely to accomplish them.
If you can read only ONE book this month, this quarter, or this year, I seriously think that you begin with the ONE Thing. It’s my sincere hope that this book will initiate a domino effect in your life.
At any moment in time there can be only ONE Thing, and when that ONE Thing is in line with your purpose and sits atop your priorities, it will be the most productive thing you can do to launch you toward the best you can be.
A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the one way that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets.
When you know what matters most, everything makes sense. When you don’t know what matters most, anything makes sense.
This is a great book for someone interested in exceptional results or simply much higher productivity.