Book Review: The One Thing

By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
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If you’re looking for an inspiring yet simple read before the New Year, I highly recommend you pick up the book the One Thing by: Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Overall, this book will change your outlook on productivity and how to cultivate profound achievements in your life. The concept is to narrow your focus and prioritize planning to the now. Personally, I read this book in less than a week because it builds from strong insights into practical application. Maybe it’s the type A personality in me, but fiction books just don’t cut it - I always need a takeaway.

The most riveting story in the book described how the Weijjers Domino Production Company in 2009 lined up over 4 million dominos and successfully toppled every one of them over. This fall generated the same amount of energy as an average size male completing 545 pushups. This is known as the “Domino Effect” in that each domino generates 50 percent more energy than the next, so as long as you stack them up right they will make larger dominos fall over. The analogy by the authors is that success is built sequentially and that by just starting with one small thing other things can/will be achieved.

Other insights from the book included how multitasking doesn’t work, that willpower is limited, and that we should all be striving to become people of powerful habits. The idea is that you must figure out the priorities in your life or the habit/project that matters most on that day. There needs to be a protected period of time. A deep question from the book struck me as a critical way to figure this out: what is the ONE thing that you can do that will make everything else in your life easier and other things unnecessary? Think about this with your personal wellness. Does work stress cause you to overeat? Does completing a workout first thing in the morning make all the difference? Basically, to achieve optimal health, your first domino might be to get proper sleep, then eat well, and finally, exercise regularly. This is different for everyone.

The practical application was the biggest benefit of this read. The authors walk you through this idea of looking at five years, one year, six months, three months, one month, one week, one day, all the way to one hour. Based on where you want to go in five years, what is the ONE thing you must do today? The suggestion is that you then block out time for that. They suggest four hours per day. What I took away is that you can’t let people control your time or distractions take over your life. They pointed out that surgeons don’t answer texts while they’re working on a patient. Think of people at work and how often they check their cell phones? Why are we doing that and what is it costing us? What I know now is that it’s crucial to time block my ONE thing, personal planning time, as well as time off.

The system described is quite simple and I’ve already noticed an increase in productivity within my life. Often you read self-development books and the messages can be overwhelming or they ask you to take too many steps. The subtitle doesn’t lie: these are simple truths. Their process makes sense especially in a world of increasing demands and distractions. Give the ONE Thing a shot; you won’t regret it.[/fusion_text]