Why I Stopped Trying to Get Things Done

get things done

“Getting Things Done”

About eight years ago I read the classic organizational book, “Getting Things Done.” At the time, it was a game changing book for me. It laid out a master system for personal and business filing and task management that gave me the ability (as the title suggests) to get more Things done and feel good about my progress.

The core concept behind the book is how to use self-discipline to change how you process information and actions that come across your desk. It encourages the reader to do a weekly review, create time to process all information that has come in the previous week, and make sure it is going to the right file or checklist for further action. Using this process allowed all of the projects that I was constantly juggling in life to be out of my hands and in the right place at least once a week. At least once a week I felt “caught up”, and it felt good.

Overall this was a very helpful strategy that helped me greatly in business and in my personal life. It gave me a system to follow so that I knew when I was off track and how to course correct. For the most part, I felt pretty organized. Little did I know that there was an even more impactful way to approach life and the ever-expanding task lists that seem to grow longer and longer each day. My impact in life started expanding when I learned how to focus on just One Thing at a time, not the many, many Things that life throws our way.

Getting Things One Thing Done

I learned about this new operating strategy in a book called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I would highly recommend it to anyone who feels like they put a lot of effort into their work and life, but don’t see the results that they hope for.

From this concept, I have had a significant paradigm shift with how I view and use my organizing system for getting things done. I’ve become much more focused on getting my One Thing done rather than getting Things done. I am way more interested in getting the One Thing done each day that will be most impactful and strategic to my long term goals than getting more small things done that are not nearly as high of a priority.

Over recent months I’ve become close to maniacal about this, but I have seen some very clear and significant results from changing this operating strategy. Only after operating on the One Thing system, have I realized how much of my time and energy were spent on so many Things that simply were not as important, but absorbed a huge amount of my time, attention, and focus.

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

The One Thing became obvious in my job and in my home. There is no paradox or confusion in my conversations because I’m focused, inspired, confident, and organized. I have room to think because my brain isn’t crowded with other Things.

Identify “The One Thing”

You may be thinking to yourself “Well, yeah, that sounds great, but I have way too many things going on just to focus on one.” This is the case for all of us, and the pressure of more and more requests only increases the more successful you become in your life and career. This is exactly why you need to learn how to focus on your One Thing. We all have hundreds and even thousands of ideas, messages, and actions that are thrown at us each week. Now, more than ever, it is vitally important to be able to identify what is most important, and fight to make your most important thing; the thing that actually gets done.

Of course there are no silver bullets in life, and reading one book won’t magically change your life. But the wisdom found in a book like this can certainly make a big difference if you are willing to put in the effort it takes to actually incorporate new habits into your work life. You must make some changes in order to get different results.

What is your One Thing? What thing creates more impact for your long-term goals than anything else? Make sure you’re focusing on it and putting aside the time to get that most important work done each day.

1 thought on “Why I Stopped Trying to Get Things Done”

  1. Excellent advice. Maybe I will dust off my copy of The One Thing and make is my “one thing” until I finish it!

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