ONE Thing book Gary Keller

Book review: The One Thing By Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

This book came highly recommended by a colleague. Prior to that, I’ve also heard about this book, I think it was through the Tim Ferris podcast if I’m not mistaken. Not highly unlikely as he is the Achiever with a big A and a self-proclaimed productivity geek. 


As a strategist and someone who is a firm believer in that laser focus generates extraordinary results I knew this was a book for me 🙂 


I completely agree that in order to be a professional and take your job (and career) seriously you both allow for and protect your total focus on achieving the results for either yourself, your client or whatever activity you have at hand. It’s all linked. 




What I like with this book is that it gives simple frameworks for planning, structure days, identify the right activities to reach your short and long term goals, and protect your focus to become more productive and create more value. Amongst many other things that will help you reach your goals, no matter if its career, health or related to other important areas of your life where you want to increase both performance and productivity. 


I’m also delighted that there are many references to research and other studies that completely nip that multitasking myth in its bud. If you want to be productive then you have to be brave and kill your multitasking habits. 




What I also like in the book that each chapter contains a summary of its key concepts. 


My summary of key takeaways


The 80/20 principle – 20% of your efforts leads to 80% of your results. (Paretho’s principle). The entire concept of the book builds on this as a foundation. It helps you identify what your 20% is. 


This book completely debunks the multitasking myth –  the price we pay is time and efficiency. Lose ends pile up, the more you multitask, the more loose ends you will generate.  And what is worse 28% of the average workday is lost due to “multitasking”. 


Multitaskers make more mistakes than non-multitaskers (supported by research)


Multitasking leads to stress and poor decisions (supported by research)



Identify the most important thing and do it well – this can also be translated into how organisational structures are set up within companies. Especially marketing departments, that often lack dedicated people and suppliers that do one thing, especially important for digital marketing where I’ve happened on a lot of messy organisations where people have so many responsibilities and split focus within the same role. Investing in an efficient and focused organisation structure will increase ROI and reduce overwhelm. Leading to a clear competitive advantage.   


Willpower is a battery – therefore we all need to find time to recover to be able to ensure optimal performance when its time to do our best work.  As well what the most optimal time is for oneself. To perform work that requires high cognitive abilities/strategic thinking. (Mine is mornings, I have no problem to get up at 5 AM if I have to)


Priority and purpose – you can only have one priority. Which I completely agree with. You can’t have more than one. Then it’s not a priority anymore.

To achieve results we all need to act with a purpose behind our actions. The why. These two go hand in hand.  


Most important question – there is a difference between questions. The quality of a question determines the quality of the answer. (TA BILD PÅ )


Strategic thinking – requires focus and more hours does not equal success/reaching goals.  


If you want to be productive and reach your goals there are four key areas you need to be able to handle: 

  • You have to handle how to say no 
  • Don’t fear chaos
  • Take care of your health and have healthy habits 
  • Your environment needs to support your goals 

Hands-on tips that you can apply today 


Find your time that works best for you to focus on your most important thing/work. 


Time block your calendar for the hours of the day when you focus on your most important thing. 


Planning is half the job done – look over your calendar and design your days and availability accordingly. (At the end of the day it’s your job to reach goals/generate results for your company and to create the right environment that supports that from your perspective.)


Overcoming the fear of saying no – write down some scripts to have at hand to adapt if it feels scary to say no. 


Who is this book for 


The person who is adamant and driven to reach their goals and know that there is a way to do so without sacrificing your health. Who wants to identify how to work smarter with purpose – not more.