The One Thing
Wake up, bleary-eyed and in serious need of a coffee. Stumble into the shower and blast yourself with hot water that only makes you sleepier. Sometime between your drive to work and lunch you begin to feel like a fully operational human.
The work day doesn’t suffer much, seeing as it’s all just routine anyway, but you can’t help but feel that you have no time to progress your life. Every day you get home from the job, and there are maybe 2 hours you can use towards moving the needle forward.
If you look at your current job, and find yourself longing, this is a real problem. How can you possibly move on to bigger and better things with two hours a day? Furthermore, half the time you find yourself phasing out of focus or day dreaming, spent from having already worked today at your main job.
Well, what if I told you that you’re doing it wrong? There is a better way to optimize your day, and move the needle forward on your life despite your little free time?
Cue: The One Thing.
The One Thing is a concept I first heard of through the illustrious Tim Ferriss: Author of “The Four Hour Workweek” and owner of the uber-successful “Tim Ferriss Show” podcast. The One Thing is a way for you to move the needle forward on your projects and dreams every day, no matter how disorganized or how little time.
It’s really quite simple: Identify the one most important task for your goals, and just do it (like Nike.)
What tasks make me most uncomfortable about getting done right now?
When we decide to take on projects, like starting a new business or learning to invest, we tend to get caught up in the unimportant details. Our overwhelm leads to busy-work, and busy-work leads to lack-of-progress. What if, instead of despairing over our few resources and time, we optimized it? What if we made sure that the most important tasks were always done first?
To implement The One Thing in your life, you need to get good at two skills:
- Identifying the most important tasks for your goals
- Doing those tasks daily, consistently, and first.
Frankly, it’s pretty easy once you’re used to it, and there are some helpful questions you can use to hack the process.
If you’re good at being honest with yourself, just write down your most important tasks, pick the most important one, and get to work.
For the rest of us, I like to use a little bit of psychology to hack the process and prevent myself from procrastinating:
Every morning, I ask myself: “What tasks make me most uncomfortable about getting done right now?”
Then, I’ll write the top 5 or 6 things that come to mind. More often than not, one of them (if not all) is exactly what I should do that day in order to progress my dreams.
Next we need to understand how to be consistent.
The best way to implement “The One Thing” is to make time in the morning, first thing after you’re up. I know many of you work day jobs, but if you can, wake up as early as necessary to be able to work on your One Thing.
Personally, I use a brief morning ritual including a cold shower and writing down my One Thing while breakfast cooks.
As soon as I finish and have identified my One Thing, I proceed to work on it until completion or for at least 2 hours. Usually I finish it before noon, and then I’ll proceed to the next tasks I identified on my list.
The point is, I do my One Thing first, and if possible, I complete it first before anything else that day.
This means that no matter how busy or unplanned my day goes, I always complete the most important thing I can do for my dreams, daily, consistently, every morning.
Once you get used to completing your One Thing, you can start adding two work-tasks to your list. Usually I’ll do the next two next most uncomfortable tasks I identified in the morning. I find that having completed my One Thing, I have momentum to carry me through working the rest of my day.
If you work a day job and your One Thing and tasks are not related to it, then the most important thing is to work on your One Thing as early as possible. If it is possible to do it before work, do it before work. If not, then do it during lunch. If you can’t do it during lunch, then make your first thing after work completion of your One Thing.
This tactic has been an absolute game-changer for me in my life, and has single-handedly allowed me to launch my fitness blog from idea to business in about a week’s time. Essentially, it keeps your eye on the ball and keeps you moving forward without distraction.
The Navy SEALs have a saying: Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast. By consistently working one action at a time in the direction of your goals, you will manifest your dreams materially faster than ever before in your life.
This is the power of The One Thing.