Book Review: The One Thing by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller

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I picked The One Thing book up thanks to the Smart Passive Income podcast and Pat Flynn’s insisting that this book would change my mindset. And man, this book is nothing short of amazing.

The premise behind The One Thing is nothing new or revolutionary: To succeed, you need to stop trying to multi-task and focus on a million little things. Instead, you need to focus on one big thing and dedicate your mindset completely to that. Only then can you succeed and make your business/life/whatever thrive.

So, like I said, this book isn’t telling me anything new. But why did I love The One Thing so much? Because it broke down the concept into really well-researched and positioned arguments. The research was really thought-provoking and easy to understand, especially when they were illustrated (both figuratively and literally…the artwork inside is great).

According to this book, multi-tasking doesn’t work when it comes to trying to make the most out of your time. Papasan and Keller show that switching tasks during the day in order to multi-task can make you lose 28 minutes every day, just in start-up/switchover time. That may not seem like much, but when you’re trying to maximize your time (or, ahem, you’re on a deadline), 28 minutes can be critical.

So instead, in order to maximize your time, focus on one thing at a time and once that task is completed, move on to the next. The authors illustrate this by using a domino effect: one domino has the ability to knock down another domino twice it size. By knocking down one task at a time, you’re able to tackle larger tasks and break down the work into simple steps, rather than running around trying to knock down multiple tasks at a time. Focusing your concentration will help you to achieve your goals faster.

I put this to the test with a recent order I had…well, two orders. One order was obscenely large in both scale and product (42,000 units). The other order was also large, but would take time due to the nature of the products (it was 432 candles, so the wax would have to be melted, then poured, and then I would wait for the wax to cool before boxing the candles).

For two weeks I tried to work on both projects, but in different ways (unfortunately, they had very close deadlines to one another). I set a daily goal for both: 1500 for the first order, 72 candles (2 cases) for the second order. The first week, I would begin my day by setting up the candles, and melting the wax. While the wax melted, I worked on the 1500 units. I would then stop working on them once the wax had melted, poured the candles, and while they were cooling I set to melt more wax. While that wax melted, I went back to the 1500 units and so on.

The second week, I spent the mornings working solely on the 1500 goal and only once that was finished could I switch over to the candles.

So which was the better solution? Week 2! I ended up more focused on the goals ahead of me and was less prone to distraction, whereas in week 1 I was willing to get up and check my email when I heard the alert, or check my phone when I got a text. Week 2 gave me more focus and made me feel less stressed, oddly enough.
So while this book’s concept isn’t new, the methods and research behind it are truly awesome and I feel are very necessary lessons to learn when it comes to being self-employed and staying sane.

Would I recommend? Absolutely 

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