The One Thing is the best productivity book I have read so far. The essence of this book is; your life transforms when you begin asking the focusing question; “What is the One Thing I can do, such that by doing, everything else will become easier or unnecessary?,” then dedicating 3-4 hours everyday to the answer.

This is one of those books you reread. It is one of those books that have offered me a gem I’ve embedded into my daily life. Every morning, one of the questions I ask myself in my daily journal is, “What is your One Thing today?”

Pragmatic Application

The Focusing Question

Use the One Thing Philosophy to find your Life Purpose/Life Task/Life Mission; one sentence that encapsulates your reason for living. Mine is to “Help people heal themselves.”

Another is the concept of Deep Work. When you know your ONE Thing, begin to chisel out a block of 3-4 hours early in your day where you work on only your ONE Thing. No distractions. No multitasking.

Book Notes 

Section One -The Lies

“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” -Russian Proverb

The 6 lies

-Everything Matters Equally
Achievers work from a clear sense of priority
Rank your to-do lists so you do the most important first
Leverage the 80/20 Principle
To-do lists become success lists when you prioritize them using 80/20
Keep 80/20-ing until you determine the single most important thing to do

“To do two things at once is to do neither.” -Publilus Syrus
Scientifically, there is no such thing as true multitasking. We “task switch” which saps time and energy.

-A Disciplined Life
We don’t need more disciple, we need to focus what we have more intelligently
Build one habit at a time
Give the habit enough time (average is 66 days)

-Willpower is always on Will-Call
Willpower depletes as we use it
Linked to glucose (what about keto though)

-A Balanced Life
“Magic doesn’t happen in the middle. Magic happens in the extremes.”
Finding the one most important thing and giving it the time it needs will always put you out of balance, but you counter balance when needed

-Big is Bad
“We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”

Apply the 80/20 to the 80/20 – determine what the ONE thing is.

Domino Effect – do the most important thing first thing everyday.

Don’t multitask – Batch things and do them all at the same time.

Think BIG, start small. – Have a huge final goal. (Creating a therapy system that works better then all others.)

Section two – The Simple Path to Productivity

The Focusing Question – “What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Great questions are the path to great answers.
The Focusing Question is a double-duty question.
The Big-Picture Question: “What’s my ONE thing.”
The Small-Focus Question: “What’s my ONE thing right now?”

The Focus Question is a success Habit. Acquire this habit.

The Focusing Question can be reworked for any category of life and any time frame.

Essentially, this book is about the implementation of this ONE question.

Great Questions are BIG and specific. (Make it measurable)

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” – F. M. Alexander

There are three kinds of Answers: Doable, Stretch, and Possibility.
Doable – Something you already know how to do
Stretch – Something that is at the very limit of your ability and will require research and role models.

Part Three – Unlocking the Potential

Purpose – Your big why
Priority – The one thing you are doing to get to your purpose
Productivity – your day to day life

“Goal Setting to the Now” Technique

Time Block
-work on your ONE thing everyday for 4 hours
-review and redirect once a week
-protect your ONE thing time fiercely.

The Three commitments
Seek Mastery -always be learning
Move from “E” to “P” -as you go, change to better ways of doing when/if they are identified
Live the Accountability Cycle – hold only yourself responsible for setbacks

The Four Thieves
The inability to say No
Fear of Chaos
Poor Health Habits
Environment doesn’t support or goals


Task Switching

We can’t actually multitask, we rapidly task switch.
Depending on how complex the task is, it may take up 25% to 100% more time to re engage after distraction.
Researchers average that we lose up to 28% of our work week from multitasking ineffectiveness.
Multitasking can cause spikes in dopamine which makes it technically potentially addictive.


You need just enough discipline to build a habit.
Seemingly amazing people are the results of a certain handful of habits.
Success is about doing the right things, not trying to do everything right.
They cite the College London Study, 66 days to complete a habit.


Questions are more important than answers.
The quality of any answer is directly proportionate to the quality of the question.
“Judge a man by his questions, not by his answers.” -Voltaire
“A prudent question is one-half of Wisdom.” -Francis Bacon
Life itself is a question and how we live it is our answer.

Visualization Research

Visualization of the process that will achieve a goal is more effective than visualizing only the achievement of a goal.

Goal-Setting Research

Writing down your goals increases the likelihood of you achieving your goals. (40% increase in a 2008 study. N = 267)
Send progress report to a friend increases the likelihood of achievement to almost 80%