Your One Things

A quick recap

You’ve identified your roles and responsibilities and now we’re thinking about what to prioritise within each. I’ve also given you some questions to use that will help you identify which roles or indeed actions are the most important. In this post I’m adapting The One Thing approach from the book by Gary Keller. Have a go at doing this during your planned review time.

Write out your roles and responsibilities so you can work with them

You’ve got up to nine roles and responsibilities now: a top three, up to three in second place, and up to three runners up.  Make sure you have them written out so you can make notes around them. For me, there’s nothing like writing something by hand to make me think about it, so write them out in a notebook if you like that idea. Otherwise, use a typed list but print it so you can make notes all over it.

Identify the three most important things you could do in each role

Working with that list of roles and responsibilities, I want you to identify the three most important things you could do in each role. These are the three things that would make the most difference. These can be at a ‘dream level’ – what you’ll achieve by the end of the process. They can also be at a ‘right now’ level – what can you do right now that will make the most difference? Come up with three for each role. At most there will be twenty-seven of these, if you have three roles at each level.

What about The One Thing approach?

Now doesn’t this contract the book’s central premise – that we need to come up with ONE thing that will make a difference? Yes. That’s because

  • We don’t live in an ideal world, so sometimes we do have to juggle competing priorities – making an arbitrary choice during your review time therefore isn’t helpful.
  • It’s useful – at this stage – simply to get them down. You can cross some out later if you decide to focus in more closely.
  • If you went for the max, and put nine roles on your list, you’re probably going to end up with one ‘One Thing’ per role anyway, plus one extra.

Your top ten

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Go over your list again. You should now be looking at 27 things (at most) that would really make a difference in your life.
  2. Keep them all in your notebook so you could come back to them.
  3. Decide on ten things maximum that you will focus on during your review. In other words, you need to whittle down your list.
  4. Write these ten things out separately so you can see them clearly. Can you rank them in order of the difference they would make?
  5. Keep checking that you’ve chosen the most important roles, and the actions that will make the most difference.
  6. It’s easy to get vague at this stage. Try to be as specific as you can.
  7. If you look at your top ten and discover that some roles have no ‘One Thing’ attributed to them – then decide whether role really is a priority this year.
  8. Make sure that ‘Me-Caretaker’ has a ‘One Thing’ attributed to it.
  9. You’re allowed to cheat if you really can’t get to ten.
  10. Check out Gary Keller’s book if you want to go into this in more depth – note that I’ve adapted (rather than adopted) his approach here.

A quick note about the maths: you’ve made a list of ten things that would make a real difference, so if you had the maximum of nine roles on your list, you’ll probably end up with one ‘One Thing’ per role, plus one extra one.


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