The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

by | Sep 10, 2019


Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

Quick Summary

The One Thing lays out a path for professional and personal success. It does this by finding the flaws (The Lies) in conventional thinking and your work process and presenting alternatives (The Truth) which will lead to productivity and growth (Extraordinary Results).

Rather than spreading yourself out too thin by treating all tasks as if they are of equal importance (multitasking), the author recommends that you narrow your focus.

Instead, prioritize by answering a single question:

What’s the one thing you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary?

You can apply this focusing question across a spectrum of goal-oriented fields such as career, finance, fitness, personal relationships, etc. The process involves harnessing your desires daily, building momentum via the sustained success of crossing the finish line, rather than inching toward an unseeable destination that remains in the distance.

The #1 Takeaway

  • Set achievable incremental goals across daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly timeframes. Make these goals your top priority, eliminate distractions, and set the domino effect in motion to compound your effort.

How to Apply to Your Daily Routine

One thing which I had fallen victim to was the myth of multitasking. Since reading the book, I’ve attempted to minimize this mistake, and in the future hope to eliminate it.

The concept of making small progress across a variety of fields seems like an ideal way to break up your day without burning out. However, bouncing back and forth one wastes time due to “refocusing” each time you switch subjects.

Similarly, the explanation of willpower as a limited resource resonates and properly places a priority on accomplishing your goals from the beginning of the day when your energy and focus are at their peak levels.

The best technique for myself is to create time blocks early in my day and to work in a distraction-free setting until I reach my daily benchmark. This means avoiding:

  • Text messages
  • Phone calls
  • Social media
  • Mundane errands

Previously, I bought into the false equivalency of busyness and productivity, as if filling your day with activity was paving the road to rewards. However, I now realize that this strategy is unfocused and inefficient.

The goal shouldn’t be to wear yourself out.

Prioritize and complete the work to achieve your next short-term goal that leads to your ultimate long-term goal.

Favorite Quotes

Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil… it’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.

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