Leverage means getting BIG results from SMALL inputs.
Figuring out what those inputs are means that you need to ask the right questions.
Answer this simple question and start driving outsized results in your life.
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The One Thing
Developed by Gary Keller, of Keller Williams - the largest realty shop in the world - and co-authored by Jay Papasan, The ONE Thing truly is a simple yet effective method for increasing productivity, building strong habits that last, and maintaining a sense of balance in your life.
It is also my absolute number 1 book recommendation, and has influenced my own productivity practice like no other.
Big success comes when you do a few things very well.
Highly successful people know this. Every day they renew their priorities, find the lead domino, and whack away at it until it falls.
And the secret to finding that first domino lies in a question.
The Clarifying Question
Keller challenges you to constantly be asking this question:
What is the One thing I can do, such by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?
This question, applied thoughtfully, gets straight to the root of what is the most effective action you can take towards completing your goals. Think of it as an 80/20 analysis on steroids.
Great questions, like great goals, are big and specific. And if you frame them to be measurable there’s no wiggle room about what the results will look like.
If “What can I do to double sales in six months?” is a Great Question, how do you make it more powerful?
Convert it to the Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do to double sales in six months such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
The research and experience of others is the best place to start when looking for your answer. Books, coaches, and mentors.
You can try the 3 Book Model Method as a powerful way to get started:
The Six Lies
In the book Keller talks about the 6 lies that stand between you and your success. Here are a few key takeaways:
1/ Everything Matters Equally
This lie suggests that all tasks and activities have equal importance.
The solutions is to prioritize your tasks and identify the one thing that will make the most significant impact. Focus your time and energy on that task.
No matter how many to-dos you start with, you can always narrow it to one.
This lie promotes the idea that multitasking is an effective way to accomplish more.
A Buddhist would call this monkey mind.” We think we’re mastering multitasking, but we’re just driving ourselves bananas."
Instead, embrace the concept of "singletasking" by focusing on a single task at a time.
Give it your full attention and complete it before moving on to the next one.
3/ A Disciplined Life
This lie implies that success requires unwavering discipline and willpower.
The truth is we don’t need any more discipline than we already have. We just need to direct and manage it a little better.
The smarter way is to build habits and routines that support your goals.
By creating a structured environment and developing consistent habits, you reduce the need for constant discipline.
4/ Willpower is Always on Will-Call
This lie assumes that willpower is a limitless resource available whenever needed.
The more we use our mind, the less minding power we have. Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle that gets tired and needs rest.
Once you understand that willpower is finite and depletes over time you will understand how to better apply it.
Use it strategically by focusing on your most important tasks early in the day when your willpower is strongest.
5/ A Balanced Life
This lie suggests that achieving success requires maintaining balance in all areas of life simultaneously.
Instead of striving for balance in all areas, focus on counterbalancing by giving more attention to your most important priorities at any given time.
In your personal life, go short and avoid long periods where you’re out of balance.
Going short lets you stay connected to all the things that matter most and move them along together.
In your professional life, go long and make peace with the idea that the pursuit of extraordinary results may require you to be out of balance for long periods.
6/ Big Is Bad
This lie implies that setting big goals is intimidating and unachievable.
If you fear big success, you’ll either avoid it or sabotage your efforts to achieve it.
Embrace the idea of setting big goals and then break them down into smaller, manageable steps.
Focus on the immediate action steps required to move forward and make progress.
The Peaceful Productivity Question
See if you can spot Keller's influence in the question I ask myself every day:
If I could only finish one thing today, what would that have to be in order to consider the day a success?
This question promotes a laser-focused level of prioritization. By figuring out what the ONE THING is that is the most important thing you can be working on, you ensure that your focus is on the highest value task.
It also promotes single tasking as getting that thing done requires a relentless focus on finishing.
Life happens and things will get in between you and your most important task. The important thing when that happens is to get back to it as quickly as possible, and get it DONE.
That allows you to focus on the next thing tomorrow.
And if you get the thing done early? Ask the question again.
Keller on Productivity
(paraphrased from the book)
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.
Productive people get more done, achieve better results, and earn far more in their hours than the rest. They time block their ONE Thing and then protect their time blocks with a vengeance.
So, go to your calendar and block off all the time you need to accomplish your ONE Thing. 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 routine.
To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness, time block these three things in the following order: Time block your time off. Time block your ONE Thing. Time block your planning time.
The key to making this work is to block time as early in your day as you possibly can. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to take care of morning priorities, then move to your ONE Thing.
What is Your One Thing?
A strategy of timeblocking and prioritization helped Keller become one of the "most powerful people in real estate".
The tools are simple but the results you can achieve with them are disproportionately large.
So, what is the one thing YOU can do right now that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?
When you are ready, here are a few ways I can help:
1. Subscribe to The Lever (if you haven't already)
This covers a science-based productivity concept each week, in about five minutes. Try a free chapter of my new book when you subscribe. And if you like it...
Peaceful Productivity outlines the time-management system I've created over the years as a ship's Captain and business executive. It will help you plan, prioritize, and get more of the right things done. Also available on Amazon
This short course will teach you the fundamentals of a powerful timeblocking system to make sure you never miss an obligation and always show up prepared. Give yourself the space you need to create the life you deserve.
Smart systems to make you productive, prolific, and profitable | Find me on Twitter @SeanPHogue | Sign up here for the weekly newsletter, The Lever, and create some leverage in your life.