4 thieves rob you of your ONE Thing

Hey Zemanta! This series of posts is not about Michael Bolton!

The One Thing (album)
The One Thing, indeed.

It’s about a little book with a simple plan to achieve more by doing less: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

This last installment covers what author Gary Keller calls four thieves of productivity— four things that get in the way of accomplishing your ONE Thing.

1. Inability to say no.

Shoot. Dang. Poop.

I struggle with this ALL THE TIME.

Will you teach this class? Will you make this announcement? Will you do this interview? Will you bake these brownies? Can I touch You…There? (Gross. Get off my blog, Bolton.)

But I say yes. Even when I don’t want to. Even when I suck at it. Even when it directly opposes my ONE Thing.


I’m a people pleaser, so mostly it’s fear of disappointing someone. But pleasing everyone is impossible.

Just Say NoDo the right thing, and don’t worry about who likes it. You won’t please everybody, but you will earn their respect. Also, by saying no, you may be opening up an opportunity for someone else who’s been dying to be asked.

If you can say no to other people, but have a hard time staying on task (or just get sidetracked easily), consider this: “your own need to do other things instead of your ONE Thing may be your biggest challenge to overcome.”

When you say yes to something, understand what you are saying no to.

Every other thing you say yes to takes
away from your ONE Thing.

Do your ONE Thing. And don’t feel guilty about the rest— somebody out there was born to bake brownies.

2. Fear of chaos.

When I write, the desk becomes cluttered, the wall fills up with sticky notes, my books and 3×5 cards and forearms get covered with doodles and reminders. And I can get kind of panicky about the mess.

A straight shooter with upper management potential written all over him. (Office Space 1999)

Don’t stifle yourself! Allow the creative process free reign for your 4-or however many-hour time block. If you can’t stand looking at it the rest of the day, time block a few minutes to clean up, too.

Try mind-mapping, word association, writing stream of consciousness. Gut a fish. Sully the pages with your bad self until the good stuff starts to flow.

3. Poor health habits.

Dostoevsky had his gambling, Fitzgerald had his gin, Zirro had her tequila. Eh.

Are you sleeping well? Eating right? Exercising regularly? Building meaningful relationships? Getting enough affection?

You’ll only accomplish your ONE Thing if your lifestyle and habits support you.

4. Environment doesn’t support your goals.

IMG_3690As long as I’m in the kitchen, I’m ignored for the most part. But the minute I sneak off to write, life-giving motherhood force is sucked from the room and the vacuum is immediately noticed. Bellies instantly need filling, lost items need finding, conversations begin. My office becomes the most popular spot on the block and I am the center of the universe.

If you’re going to win the next Nobel prize, you’ve got to have a space you can write in.

I moved a desk into my bedroom this week, because the kitchen just wasn’t cutting it.

Worth a shot, right?

Today’s assignment:

  • Say no to anything that doesn’t directly support your ONE Thing.
  • Get messy. Spread your notes out, take up space, do whatever you haven’t allowed yourself to do.
  • Do something healthy. Get up or go to bed earlier. Choose fruit instead of the doughnut. Smile. Hug somebody. Invite good things into your life by putting out good vibes. Treat yourself and others well. Be your best self.
  • Milton. He's got his ONE Thing.
    Milton. He’s got his ONE Thing.

    Look at your environment. How’s the atmosphere? Declutter, add a lamp, take back your red Swingline stapler… make it a place you love to be and the positive energy will flow into your writing.

Do less. Achieve more.

Previous posts:
The ONE Thing
Another thing about The ONE Thing
One letter from The ONE Thing
6 enemies of The ONE Thing


2 thoughts on “4 thieves rob you of your ONE Thing”

  1. I have one of those staplers! It’s the weirdest thing. Don’t use it often at home, but it just makes me feel better. How’s the desk in the bedroom doing? I’m debating that so the living room isn’t so cluttered. I’ve no fear of chaos and it’s pissing my roommate off.


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