To achieve extraordinary results in both work and life, we must do two things: 1) turn our to-do-everything approach into a targeted “One Thing” approach, and 2) manage our time productively. In his book “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,” Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty and a best-selling author, shows how he overcame his own issues about focus. Multitasking is not effective, he says, since success requires long periods of laser-focused concentration. If you find your “One Thing,” Keller says, everything else will fall into place. In this article, I summarize seven recommendations based on his research and experience. His methods are helping managers and executives become more productive and create habits that build success.
Understand the Power of Focus
Just adding projects without removing others from our list is a recipe for failure. It also damages our family relationships, friendships, and overall health. Only by prioritizing and focusing on a single target we can put many large forces in motion. Then everything else falls into place, just like the domino effect.
Lorne Whitehead concluded in the American Journal of Physics in 1983 that one domino could topple another that is 50% larger. Thus, if we start with a two-inch domino, thanks to the geometric progression, the 23rd domino would be taller than the Eiffel Tower. This finding demonstrates that it is easier to achieve great success with a series of focused, sequential projects, rather than simultaneous. We can look at several company examples, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple. Thus, our challenge is to discover our primary focus, and until we find it, our one thing is to search for it tirelessly.
When we focus on the one thing that we are passionate about, we effortlessly can spend lots of time developing the necessary skill. Bill Gates manifested his high school passion for computers into an extraordinary talent for programming. Then he built that knowledge into success as co-founder of Microsoft.
Demystify the Myths
Before you can embrace the One-Thing philosophy, you need to remove from your mind any misconceptions about productivity and success. Start by eliminating the following myths from your ideology.
“Everything matters equally” – Instead of having multiple items on your to-do list, reduce it, not only to a few things but to the single thing that matters most. Then learn and be comfortable saying “No” or “Later” to anything else.
“Multitasking” – Many people believe they can do multiple things at once. However, studies have proved that multitasking makes you slower, more distracted, more stressed and more prone to errors. When you shift your focus back and forth, you spend more time and energy.
“Willpower is always on will-call” – Our willpower is limited and drains quickly. Therefore it is crucial to schedule your more important work when your willpower is high. For most of us, the best time to use our willpower is early in the day, and should seldom use it for the remaining of the day. You can also help your brain by feeding it properly with protein and carbohydrates. Keep in mind that our brain consumes 1/5 of our calories, despite only contributing to 1/50 of our body mass.
“A balanced life” – Instead of balancing your time, change your perspective to priorities. When you are at work, prioritize your most important item at work so that you can go home on time. Then when you are at home, focus on your most important thing at home, so you can then return to work re-energized.
“Big is Bad” – Think as big as you possibly can. Remember that your thoughts become words, your words actions, your actions habits, and habits your destiny. If a reasonable goal is 100, aim for 200, believe in it, and make a solid plan to achieve it. Don’t fear failure, as it is usually part of the journey to success.
The Right Question for a Smooth Road to Success
The best way to get the right answers is to ask the right questions. One of the questions that we should always ask ourselves is “What is the one thing I can do such that, by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This simple question allows you to go beyond simple tasks and your to-do list and directs you to what is most important, like the first domino that will make everything else fall into place.
Asking “What is my one thing?” defines your “big one thing” and guides you to develop a path for your career, your business, and your personal life. Similarly, asking “What is my one thing right now?” clarifies the “small one thing” that drives your daily activities. This technique puts your top priority at the center of your focus and leads you to a very productive workday and focused personal life.
Make a habit of asking yourself the focusing question on a regular basis. Do it for each aspect of your life, such as physical, mental, spiritual, health, financial, career, job, business, family, and friends. If you want, you can be more specific, such as “physical health.” Then add a time element such as right now, this week, or this year.
“What’s the one thing I can do such that, by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary for my consulting business this year?”
“What’s the one thing I can do such that, by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary for my physical health today?”
Define your answers in measurable terms so you will know precisely what should do to achieve them. Push your target beyond your comfort level to attain extraordinary results.
Be assured that no matter how many to-dos you start with, you can always narrow it to just the most important one.
The Key for Extraordinary Results: Purpose, Priority, and Productivity
Charge your goals with purpose, priority, and productivity to achieve excellent results. Your purpose is your foundation. Your big one thing defines your priority for action. And your small one thing fuels your daily productivity.
The secret to achieving extraordinary results is knowing what matters most to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it. You can find your true happiness by being engaged and taking daily steps to do something meaningful. Purpose keeps you on your path, so everything else falls into place.
Understand Your Daily Priority
Every day, focus your intent on a single priority. Focus only on the present, which the only time that exists and the only one you can affect. By piling up these moments, you can reach your goals.
Most of us tend to want the rewards now, which makes us delay bigger challenges and more significant results. We can correct this tendency by setting goals in the now. In other words, we look inside a long-term goal to find the priority for today, inside the priority for the week, inside the priority for the month, and so on until we reach our goal. Also, writing and visualizing our goals substantially improve the odds to accomplish them.
Focus on Productivity
Some of us need help to be productive. One useful technique is “time blocking.” Take your calendar and block off the time you need to achieve your one thing. Don’t worry if it takes most of your day. A productive person may spend half of the working hours on one big priority and the other half on everything else.
Take complete responsibility for your outcomes by holding no one but yourself responsible for them. Ownership is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success.
Also, you need to block time for planning. Take time to set and evaluate your goals and progress. You should take about one hour each week to look at your monthly and annual goals. Then take time at the end of the year to check your long-term goals. Plus, be sure to block time to relax on a daily basis so that you can recharge your energy and willpower.
Beware of Productivity Hijackers
Finally, use these four tips to eliminate or reduce productivity hijackers:
- Learn to say “No” more often.
- Accept the chaos that surrounds any pursuit of greatness.
- Take care of your health with good food, exercise, stress relief, time with family and friends, and sleep.
- Create an environment that supports your goals.
Do you know any other techniques for productivity and success? Please write a comment below.
About the Author: Art Torres is an IT Quality Champion and Change Agent in the Finance and Insurance industries. Builds high-performance, customer-centric teams that enable swift completion of strategic projects with zero critical defects; resulting in higher profits and enhanced customer and employee satisfaction. Improves processes by developing and implementing policies and procedures, best practices, standards, and methodologies.
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