If you were to do one thing and one thing only to attain the greatest shift in a specific area of your life, what would that be?
I started writing this post months ago, after re-reading Steven Covey’s 7 Habits and being reminded of the 4 quadrants.
I’m sure you’ve seen and heard it before, so I won’t go in to it. Check out the book if you haven’t. The premise is you spend the majority of your time in quadrant 2; doing things that have significant long term value, avoid or outsource interruptions and firefighting, and minimise unimportant activities and unproductive/wasted time.
The One Thing
The premise of ‘The One Thing’ is ultimate focus and prioritisation on the single thing that will have the greatest benefit in a specific area of your life.
It is Pareto’s principle taken to the extreme.
In the book they cite many examples of successful people whom focus on their ‘one thing’ before all else. It is written toward maximising your efficiency at work, but can be applied in all areas of your life. The recommendation is to spend 4 hours every day focused solely on your ‘one thing’.
To do this they recommend time management and prioritisation skills such as blocking your diary for the morning and disconnecting yourself from phone/email/social media.
If you’re a writer, sit down and write for 4 hours as the first task of the day.
If you’re a sales person, get on the phone and pitch for 4 hours as the first task of the day.
Whatever is your bread and butter, your actual deliverable, spend the first 4 hours doing that.
Applying your ‘one thing’
I’d written this question in the draft previously:
If you were to do one thing for your health/fitness that would have the biggest impact on your results what would that be?
You don’t need to spend 4 hours doing this, clearly that is too much unless this is your profession. Just answer the question: What one thing is more important than everything else?
- Hire a professional – this one act is essentially outsourcing the thinking, learning and prioritisation to somebody else. Working with a proven expert will do more to increase your outcomes than anything else.
- Record/journal – making a commitment to spend 5 minutes per day writing down your food, workout, or lack of, will keep you accountable and ensure you always have the data to show you what is, or is not working for you. Data is power and accountability is key.
- Work out first thing in the morning – If you don’t give yourself a choice to put it off, instead getting straight in to it, you know it will get done. This will set off a domino effect where, having worked out already, you are more likely to eat well as you are in that positive mindset about your fitness.
They speak extensively of the domino effect in ‘The One Thing’. Doing the biggest, most bang for your buck thing will set off a chain reaction of momentum and productivity. You will get in to a flow state and you become unstoppable.
You don’t lack discipline, you lack prioritisation
I say you, but this has definitely been very true for me in certain areas of my life, especially business.
I would ‘work’ super hard on important tasks such as:
- browsing Facebook/Twitter/Instagram
- Staring aimlessly at the computer screen
- Staring aimlessly out the window
- Re-jigging and tweaking tiny things to increase efficiency 0.1%
- Replying to emails, texts, whatsapps, tweets, facebook messages and anything else that is a distraction from task
Most of this is busybodying or just plain procrastination. When I get going and get in to things, I can be super productive, but I would often have to exhaust all avenues of procrastination before I actually started on what I should be prioritising.
I’ll let you assess where you waste your time and need to prioritise your life, but I think it is important to mention that often, you don’t lack discipline, your intentions are generally in the right place, what you lack is a clearly defined prioritisation strategy to ensure that the important stuff gets done before all else.
The answer therefore, is not increasing discipline in [going to the gym], but in increasing discipline in prioritisation and focus.