The ONE Thing, Gary Keller & Jay Papasan - Book Summary

The ONE Thing will show you how to get better results in less time, with less pressure, tips to revive your energy and move forward. Take ownership of what's really important to you.

Who should read this book?

YOU WANT LESS. You want to reduce distractions and stress – the rush of e-mails, texts, phone calls, demands from work, family come rushing in. And what is the price to pay? Always late to the deadline, the quality of the work declines, the salary is meager, there is no opportunity for advancement, and the pressure is increasing every time.

YOU WANT MORE. You want to increase work productivity, increase income to cover a better life. You want to have more time for yourself, for your loved ones to enjoy life more.

So how to meet these expectations? The ONE Thing will help you achieve both, less and more.

About the author

Gary Keller is the co-founder and chairman of the Board of Directors of Keller Williams Realty International, the largest real estate franchise company in the United States. He has published 3 books related to real estate and they all became bestsellers.

Jay Papasan is vice president of publishing and editor-in-chief of Keller Williams Realty. He has also co-authored with Gary Keller on many other bestsellers.

It's not good to be big – a way of thinking that limits one's own opportunities.

When Arthur Guinness established his first brewery, he set out to do more than just produce a few casks of beer: he signed a 9,000-year site lease. Similarly, when JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she envisioned seven years at Hogwarts before penning the first chapter of the seven-book series.

And those people have achieved amazing results, a big part of their success is that they dare to think big : starting with a wide vision of success right before embarking on the job. job. It would be difficult to achieve such extraordinary results if they were afraid to think too big from day one.

However, for most people, when it comes to great achievements, the first thought is difficult, complicated. For some reason they fear that great success brings with it pressure, tension, and fear. It was that way of thinking that prevented them from thinking big.

When thinking big is not good, they have narrowed their thinking, lowering the standards. They automatically limit their chances of success, suppress their potential, and accept mediocrity.

Would science reach its present remarkable level of development if no one had dared to think of extraordinary possibilities before, like humans being able to breathe underwater, fly in the air or travel to space? No one knows the limits of their future achievements, so worrying about it will only be a waste of time.

Success requires action, and action requires thinking. But the only actions that become the springboard to great success are those guided by the ability to think big.

“Don't let petty thoughts limit the scope of your life. Think big, aim high, and act boldly.”

Not everything is equally important.

Many people create a “to do” list from time to time to capture all the tasks that need to be completed. But have you wondered: when the list is done, what should be done first? Should you start with the most time-consuming tasks or the small, simple tasks first? Or do we just work in order on the list?

All of the above approaches are ineffective because not everything is equally important. There are really only a few of them that have a significant impact and as such, they should be given priority over all.

This conclusion can be drawn from the work of Joseph M.Juran, a pioneer in quality control management. While working for General Motors, he noticed that a few mistakes resulted in countless defective products. Therefore, fixing small errors should be a top priority.

Juran called his discovery the Pareto Principle, named after an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. In the nineteenth century, Pareto wrote a mathematical model of the unequal income distribution in Italy that claimed 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population. This ratio is also true of Juran's experience: 80% of defective products are made up of 20% of small errors.

Juran found the 80/20 principle to be in fact a universal rule: 20% of the causes, the inputs often lead to 80% of the results or outputs.

And the corollary to this principle is pretty clear: the tasks on your to-do list are not equally influential; Only a few of them contribute to great success. Prioritize tasks and focus on what matters most, which will get you most of the results.

Ask "focus questions".

Talking about success, Mark Twain once said:

“The secret to moving forward lies in the ability to start taking the first steps. For starters, break down overly complex tasks into manageable small tasks and then start from the first.”

That's great advice, but figuring out what you want and what you need to do first to get it isn't easy. Those questions have prompted the focus question , a special type of question designed to help you determine where you want to go and how to start the journey:

“What is the single most important thing I can do that makes everything else easier or unnecessary?”

This question can be divided into two levels, each with its own function:

First, at a macro level, focus questions help you see the big picture , define your overall goal: the most important thing you want to do and achieve in life.

Second, at a more specific, short-term level, focus questions point out the small focus that helps you figure out your priority subgoals. Here you find the important thing you have to do right now.

One is about finding the right direction in life; The second is choosing the right actions. It's both a map for your overall goal and a small compass for your next move.

Success comes from the ability to ask focused questions. That's how you'll outline your life and work, and how you'll make the greatest progress in your most important work. Whether you are looking for big or small answers, asking focused questions is always a habit for a successful future.

The secret to a disciplined lifestyle is forming a chain of habits.

When we think of someone as incredibly successful as Bill Gates, we often associate that success with a very disciplined lifestyle. Such a high level of discipline seems difficult to achieve. But how do successful people get there?

In fact, the key to success is not constantly applying a lot of discipline, every action must be refined, but using discipline selectively to maintain good habits.

Michael Phelps' success story is a prime example. He is greatly admired for his discipline and ability to concentrate. In fact, as a young boy, Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) which made it impossible for him to maintain concentration.

So how did Phelps turn the tide?

He focused all of his energy on a discipline that later developed into a habit – swimming every day. For nearly a decade — from the age of 14 to the Beijing Olympics — Phelps trained seven days a week, 365 days a year. He thinks that by training on Sundays, he has a competitive advantage of 52 practice days. He spent 6 hours in the water every day.

And now, Michael Phelps becomes the greatest Olympic athlete in sports history with a total of 28 medals, including 23 gold medals.

Habits are difficult only in the beginning. The truth is that over time, your habits become easier and easier to maintain. You can focus the discipline to form new habits. However, it takes time to form the right habits, so don't give up too soon.

On the other hand, success is a continuum rather than taking place simultaneously. No one really has the discipline to get into many new positive habits at a time. Highly successful people use selective discipline to develop a few outstanding habits, one after the other over time. So build each habit one at a time, invest the time needed, and apply every discipline you have to focus on developing it.

“Pursue discipline long enough to make it a habit, and your journey will be different. Make a habit a part of your life, and you will find life much simpler.”

Multi-tasking doesn't work – pick one and focus on it.

Many people today consider multi-tasking – doing two or more things at once – as a highly productive way of working. However, the original meaning of the word "multitasking" is to describe a computer that uses a processor to perform alternating tasks. The speed with which computers tackle a variety of tasks creates the illusion that everything is happening at the same time, so comparing computers to humans can be confusing.

It is true that humans can do two or more things at the same time, like walking and talking, but like computers, we cannot focus on both at the same time. When you think you're multitasking, you're actually juggling them, shifting your focus from one task to another.

Research shows that when switching tasks, people take a moment to start a new task and then restart the one they just abandoned. The cost in the form of extra time due to job switching depends on the complexity or simplicity of the job.

For example, switching between two simple tasks – like watching TV and folding clothes – is quick and easy. However, if you are working on a complex spreadsheet and at that time a colleague stops by to discuss a business problem, then you will have to spend a lot of time trying to remember what you are working on. where and what is the purpose of the work.

Researchers have estimated that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and spend a third of their day getting back to work after distractions. So do you want to waste that much time in the day?

When you try to do too many things at once, you may not be able to do anything well. Find the most important thing at the time and give it your full attention.

“Switching jobs entails a few costs that very few people realize they are paying.”

Time management strategy.

Most people think that they never have enough time to be successful, but it is possible when you know how to block time.

Time division helps you observe and use time scientifically. It's a way to make sure one has done what needs to be done. Stop the time box from fully tapping into your energy and focus it on the work that matters most. It is the greatest power tool of effectiveness.

To achieve amazing results and great experiences, block the time slot for three things in this order:

The first is your rest time . By planning your breaks in advance, you can manage your working time. This also lets others know your plan in advance so they can make a plan accordingly. Take time off to recharge. Block out the long weekends and long vacations, then take the time to enjoy. You will have more time to rest, be more relaxed and be more productive.

The second is time for the most important thing , because you cannot sustain success at work without refueling yourself. The best way to do the most important thing is to “date” yourself regularly. Divide the time slots at the beginning of the day, and divide them into large chunks, no less than four hours each.

Third is your planning time . This is the time to think about where you are and where you want to be. Take a look at your one-day schedule and five-year goals to gauge the progress you have to make in the next year. You may even have to add new goals, re-imagine old ones, or remove any goals that no longer reflect your purpose or priorities. This period should be spaced out for one hour per week.

The time box is only effective when you always keep in mind that “Nothing and no one has the right to distract me from the most important thing”. Unfortunately, your determination has nothing to do with the world, so be creative when you can and steadfast when necessary. Your time boxes are the most important meeting of your day, so do whatever you can to protect it.

You can build a “underground” – find a workplace that can help you avoid interruptions and distractions; wipe out all distractions by turning off phones, e-mails; or tell people who are likely to find you about what you're doing and when you're free.


The main message of the book is:

Success comes from focusing on a single thing, not many things. Learn how to navigate the chaos and spend a fair share of your time on what's important.