The one sentence summary

There are some surprisingly simple truths behind achieving extraordinary results.


  • Focusing on your one thing can help you cut clutter, achieve better results in less time, reduce stress, and overcome that overwhelmed feeling.
  • The critical question underpinning the philosophy of the book is: What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
  • The big picture is your one big thing and the small focus (today) is your one thing right now. Tasks should be big and specific. Big and broad is too vague, and small things are too functional to make much difference.
  • There are six lies between you and success:

1. Everything matters equally. No it doesn’t. Equality is a lie.

2. Multitasking. It doesn’t work. Juggling is an illusion and interruptions ruin all high quality work.

3. A disciplined life. We can have enough in short bursts, but we need to turn discipline into habits that then come naturally. Research shows that the disciplined repetition of something turns into a habit after 66 days.

4. Willpower is always on will-call. You can’t just turn willpower on because it takes a lot of energy and has a limited battery life.

5. A balanced life. It’s a myth. We do our best work at the extremes.

6. Big is bad. Not true. Aiming big is better than doing small stuff.


  • Productivity is driven by priority and purpose. Without purpose, you don’t know why you are doing something. Without priority, you don’t know what order to do things in.
  • Future purpose connects to present priority in this chain: Someday goal > five-year > one-year > monthly > weekly > daily > right now. Work down the chain and you will know what’s the one thing you need to do right now.
  • Time blocking means you make an appointment with yourself and keep it. Always protect your time block.
  • Divide your time into Maker time and Manager time. Do the first in the morning – uninterrupted. Then you can interact with others.
  • Accountable people seek and acknowledge reality, own it, find a solution and get on with it.
  • Victims avoid and fight reality, blame things and other people, make excuses, and then wait and hope.
  • People who write down their goals are 40% more likely to succeed. Those who then send progress reports to their friends are 75% more likely to succeed. Writing things down really works.
  • The four thieves of productivity are an inability to say no, fear of chaos, poor health habits, and an environment that doesn’t support your goals.
  • To-do lists are always long. Success lists are short and specific.
  • “If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one.” Russian proverb


  • Not much. It’s good disciplined stuff, although anyone who is already well organised might say that they already know how to do all of this.