We’ve all been there before - attempting to accomplish tasks on a to-do list that seems to never end. While we all strive for productivity and better focus on the job, the day-to-day distractions that carve their way into our work day often leave us with more tasks at the end of the day than we originally started out with. Consequently, many of us find ourselves climbing an endless ladder of work at the expense of quality time with our loved ones and taking care of our health. In this day and age, is achieving “work/life balance” even possible, or should it be dismissed as wishful thinking? In his book “The One Thing”, author Gary Keller sets out to address this very topic.
“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
“The One Thing” explains that achieving extraordinary results in both work, and life, is actually more simple than what most people would expect. The three main takeaways from this book are considered to be the following:
1. Asking yourself one important question will help you set long-term and short-term goals.
2. Saying “no” is crucial for achieving positive results.
3. Sacrificing your personal life for work is never a good idea.
Let’s explore each of these topics a bit further.
1. The Focusing Question
“What’s the ONE thing you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
The entire book is based around this single question. It’s easy to view your to-do list as a giant monster. It can certainly feel this way when there are many tasks to complete. However, Keller explains that by focusing our attention on the one task that best answers the focusing question, we will be able to complete what matters “most” first, and therefore complete other tasks much more easily.
2. The Importance of Saying No
This lesson is much harder than it sounds. We may arrive at our jobs, ready to tackle our “one thing”, but oftentimes get distracted by questions, emails and chatter. In order to properly focus on the “most” important task at hand, we need to learn how to say “no” to other, less urgent distractions that pop up during the work day.
3. The Value in Respecting Your Personal Life
When we learn to focus on our “one thing”, the time that we spend actually working is going to be extremely productive. This gives us the freedom in our personal time to be with our loved ones, enjoy relaxing activities and take better care of our health. Focusing on your general well-being outside of work will energize and motivate you to work even harder when you are on the clock.
In conclusion, when we take the time to discover our “one thing”, we are thoughtfully prioritizing our tasks. The next time you find yourself staring at a never-ending to-do list, remember to first ask yourself the focusing question, say no to unimportant distractions and never sacrifice your personal life in order to get the job done.