The One Thing – By Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
“The One Thing – The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results”
Get it now Here:
First Published: 2013
Accolades: NYT Bestseller, WSJ #1 bestseller, Amazon #1 Best seller
What you will learn in one sentence:
“Focused effort on a single task always beats scattered effort and multi-tasking -especially in the long run”
TLDR; Should you read it? YES!
A book about cutting out the noise and distractions so you can focus on what is most important to you and your life. The One Thing is in essence a book about finding the single task which:
- Is most important to you,
- That you’re most passionate about
- And will benefit your life the most long-term
Then taking measures -sometimes even drastic- towards making sure that you spend your best hours focused on that one thing.
I once heard a saying which to me pretty well sums up this practice.. I can’t remember who wrote it but it goes something like this: “Some tasks in life may seem impossibly large to accomplish, but give a man an axe and if he just takes 5 chops every day eventually even the tallest tree will fall”
Gary and Jay go into much more detail than that throughout this book. They even state that you don’t need to limit yourself to one thing for life but more so knowing and taking action towards the one thing which you most need to do. It could be your one thing for the week or your one thing for your health/wealth/relationship etc. The real key is asking yourself intelligent questions.The most prevalent question referenced throughout the book is:
“What is the one thing I can do, such by doing it will make everything else easier or unnecessary”.
To frame that question better with some examples given in the book (page 114) it might be something like: “What is the one thing I can do, such by doing it will make everything else easier or unnecessary…. For my finances” OR
…For my relationship
…For my business
…For my health
…For my spiritual life
Gary and Jay argue that the difference between Ultra-Successful people and non-successful people isn’t a fundamental difference in intelligence, commitment, mindset or opportunity but that the difference is how those elements are applied. There are 24 hours in a day for everyone so it’s not that some people magically have more time, it’s that;
the ultra-successful have a better method for applying the time they have to achieve the task at hand.
They do this primarily in 3 ways:
- They ask better questions to identify the most important task
- They utilise the power of Time Blocking.
- They do only the one task at one time. Focused effort instead of scattered effort.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is the art -read discipline- of literally blocking out periods of time on your calendar for your one thing. Gary and Jay suggest 4-hour blocks, preferably first thing in the morning (when your mind is working best). Every day that time is 100% distraction-free and dedicated to your task. No emails, no calls, no interruptions.. Just laser focus to bring about extraordinary results in the long term.
Many excellent examples of time blocking can be found throughout the book and there is even a detailed illustration of how to set up and optimal time blocked calendar on page 162 (Fig 29.), Then another monthly check-off calendar example on page 169 a (as pictured below)
In summary I think what I’ve learned reading the one thing is that a simple philosophy is sometimes the solution to complex problems. That extreme discipline and focus, even if just for short periods, is far more effective than working more, working harder and working longer in a scattered manner.
I like to think of the daily practice of the one thing as a compounding investment of time and effort which will in the long run have a snowball effect and bring about far more fruitful results.
Business Helpfulness: 3.5/5
My Overall Score: 78%