The book The One Thing by Gary Keller is a simple method to productivity centered on a single question that will help you have less clutter, distractions, and stress while increasing focus, energy, and success. For the past 30 years, Gary Keller has been the CEO of one of the world's leading real estate corporations. That wasn't enough, apparently, so he had to write a New York Times bestseller.
You simply need to ask one question to figure out your long- and short-term priorities. “What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?” That's what Keller refers to as the focal question, and it's the central premise of the book. Keller, like Tim Ferriss, believes in the 80/20 or Pareto principle, which states that 20% of the input yields 80% of the results. Because not all items on your to-do list are created equal, prioritizing them is the greatest way to accomplish the biggest gains in the shortest period of time. The beauty of how this question is phrased is that it forces you to concentrate on a single task while also allowing you to choose the priority from the top of the food chain. This question should be asked on two levels, according to Keller: macro and micro. One assists you in determining your life's course, while the other directs you to the next step you must take to get there.
Learning to focus entails learning to say no. Making yourself useless in the first place is the best approach to make saying no easier. Create a FAQ and direct folks to it if your staff are asking you the same questions. Reduce the number of incoming requests and low-level distractions so you don't have to say no as often, and if you do, make sure you tell people when you'll respond. The easiest part is asking the focusing question. It's difficult to say no to all of your other seemingly critical and urgent tasks.
Never put your personal life on hold for the sake of your business. You can always call again, send another pitch, or catch up on yesterday's work the next day. A missed dancing recital, a forgotten date, or chronic back pain, on the other hand, cannot be undone. As long as you focus on your one item, you can rest assured that you are focusing on the most critical tasks. That more than makes up for having to leave early, not getting enough sleep, and not stopping to buy flowers on the way home. After all, what good is it to accomplish your one thing if you have no one with whom to share your journey?