"The One Thing" by Gary Keller

Review by Borodutch

I enjoyed reading "The One Thing." The whole idea of the book is that if you want to achieve extraordinary results in anything, you must focus on one thing — and one thing only! The rest of the book explores the implications and methodology of how to do precisely one thing that matters. The book is not bloated with unnecessary information or fillers, so reading it is a pleasure. The author gets to the point right when they need to.

Gary also debunks a lot of myths about productivity and success:

  • Humans cannot multitask; you must focus on one thing.
  • Doing more doesn't work; you must do only what matters.
  • Life balance is necessary; put your family first; everything else can wait.
  • Willpower is a lie; instead of relying on willpower, one must build habits and work on the environment.
  • Discipline is a lie; you only need so much discipline for a repetitive action to become a habit, then you don't need discipline.
  • One must think big; if one doesn't, the small things start ruling the day; and only the small things get achieved.
  • Success is sequential and rarely overnight; big things are achieved with tiny steps.
  • A focusing question is powerful when directed towards the one big goal; what is the one thing you should do to achieve the big goal in the future?
  • Never be afraid of saying "no" — no one will be insulted; everything can wait.

The one thing I took away from the book is time blocking. For some reason, I stopped doing this a while ago — and I wouldn't say I like how things turned out. I've already started blocking time for the one thing, which works wonders!

However, not everything must be taken as absolute truth from the author. For instance, his health advice is bogus and outdated. No, you don't need breakfast: moreover, you might want to skip it instead. But you can't blame a person taking statins (instead of going vegan and counting calories, for instance) for bad health advice: this is just how life goes.

Also, the one thing for companies doesn't work. The examples the author uses contradict "the one thing" right when they are used. The author brushes it off like, "Oh, yes, that company does many things, but it is still the one thing to innovate." No, Gary, sometimes when a company does many things successfully, it simply means they do many things successfully. You don't have to try to fit a methodology that works for individuals to the companies.

The book is an excellent reminder that focusing on the one thing that matters works. As the author noted, try to answer the question: "What is the one thing you can do right now to achieve the future goal?" When you get the answer, the next question is, why are you still reading this? Go do the one thing.