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The One Thing Book Review: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

This is something that we all know intuitively. Multitasking doesn’t work. It is the truth short-term – you can type on only one keyboard at a time. This is also the case long-term. If you chase too many goals, if you and your team are not clear on the next big project to execute – it will lead to chaos, frustration and missed deadlines in the end. My recent discovery in this topic is the book: The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

“The One Thing” is a best-selling book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan that offers a surprisingly simple solution for achieving extraordinary results in your personal and professional life. In this book review, we’ll explore the key concepts and takeaways from “The One Thing” and discuss how you can apply them to your own life.

What is “The One Thing” 🎯

At the heart of “The One Thing” is the idea that success is not a matter of doing many things, but rather of doing one thing at a time, and doing it well. The authors argue that by focusing on your most important task, or “one thing,” you can achieve extraordinary results and make progress towards your goals much faster.

The book provides a simple framework for identifying your “one thing” and eliminating distractions that can get in the way of achieving it. The authors also discuss the importance of goal-setting, time-blocking, and maintaining a sense of purpose and passion.

Key Takeaways 🚀

Here are some of the key takeaways from “The One Thing” that you can apply to your own life:

  1. Focus on your most important task: Identify your “one thing” and prioritize it above all else.
  2. Eliminate distractions: Say no to anything that doesn’t align with your “one thing” or help you achieve your goals.
  3. Set specific goals: Define clear, measurable goals that are aligned with your “one thing.”
  4. Time-block your schedule: Block out time in your schedule for your “one thing” and protect that time from interruptions.
  5. Stay focused on your purpose: Keep your “why” in mind and stay motivated by the bigger picture of what you’re trying to achieve.

Three major lessons 🎓

1. Prioritize the Vital Few: Focus for Impact

“The One Thing” urges us to pinpoint and prioritize tasks that truly matter. Skip multitasking and zero in on the one thing that can make a significant difference. This focused approach boosts productivity, propelling us closer to our goals.


2. Time Blocking Unlocks Peak Productivity

The book introduces time blocking—allocating specific chunks of time to concentrate on crucial tasks. This technique minimizes distractions, enhances efficiency, and nurtures the habit of sustained focus. Structuring your day with time blocks paves the way for substantial progress.


3. Domino Effect: Small Steps, Big Wins

Emphasizing the domino effect, the authors highlight the power of small, consistent actions. Starting with a manageable task—the lead domino—sets off a chain reaction, moving you toward significant milestones. “The One Thing” advocates breaking down goals into achievable steps for sustainable success.

The most valuable takeaways from this book is the concept of The Focusing Question:

What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it
everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

As a manager, you will need to be efficient and also make sure that your team is doing the right thing at the right time. It is a skill that can be trained. It will help you with dilemmas like: should I focus on interviewing for new positions in my team, or should I focus on this burning project that needs to be executed? Should I attend this important meeting with no agenda, or should I meet with my people to clarify their goals?

I invite you to read this position because nowadays we have the wrong concept of productivity that assumes, or even promotes:

  • multitasking
  • having many priories – (priority should always be in the singular form, no?)
  • and in general – lack of focus on one activity at hand.

My favourite quotes below 💬

Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls– family, health, friends, integrity– are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.

Gary Keller

Multitasking is a lie

Gary Keller

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.

Gary Keller

It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.

Gary Keller

Juggling is an illusion. … In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. … It is actually task switching.

Gary Keller

Thinking big 💪🏼

I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.

Gary Keller

>Big is bad< is a lie. It’s quite possibly the worst lie of all, for if you fear big success, you’ll either avoid it or sabotage your efforts to achieve it.

Gary Keller

Don’t let small thinking cut your life down to size. Think big, aim high, act bold. And see just how big you can blow up your life.

Gary Keller

Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.

Gary Keller

Other people quotes in the book ✍🏼

People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.

F. M. Alexander

We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.

Robert Brault

More books and reviews here.
The blog posts where I write about the principles covered in the book.

Conclusions ☕️

“The One Thing” offers a powerful framework for achieving extraordinary results in any area of your life. By focusing on your most important task and eliminating distractions, you can make significant progress towards your goals and achieve success faster than you ever thought possible. Whether you’re looking to improve your personal or professional life, “The One Thing” is a must-read business book that provides actionable insights and a simple yet powerful approach to achieving your dreams.

Buy it here. 🛒
Listen here 🎧


Thanks for reading!

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