Ep 17. The ONE Thing to Instantly Become More Successful with Jay Papasan

What’s the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? 

Think of the 80/20 rule. 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.  Successful people take action and the things that give the highest results.  So for you, whats the ONE THING you can do that will have the highest impact on your goals?  Start there.

The Domino Effect
Think about a line of dominos that are lined up.  If lined up appropriately, one little action of pushing a single domino  has a massive effect in knocking down the entire line.  We also know that a 2 inch domino can actually knock over a domino that is 50% larger.  So a 2 inch domino can knock over a 3 inch domino, and a 3 inch domino can knock over a 4.5 inch domino.  If you continue this, by the 8th domino, what started with a single 2 inch domino is now taller than a door.  By the 18th domino, a 2 inch domino would have lead to one that could knock over the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  By the 23rd, it would be higher than the Eiffel Tower.  By the 31st, what started with a 2 inch domino could knock over one 3,000 feet taller than Mount Everest.  Shockingly, by the 57th, you could knock over a domino that was the distance from Earth to the Moon.  The moral of the story is that little actions, executed consistently, has a massive effect in your life.  Consider if you wanted to lose weight.  Nothing happens after one work out.  But over time, by exercising and eating a balanced diet consistently, all of a sudden you are 14 pounds lighter.  So, what is the ONE THING you can do, that when done consistently will have the largest impact in you achieving your goals?

Turning Your ONE THING Into a Habit
Identifying your ONE THING is great.  But it doesn’t really matter unless you can do it consistently, and the easiest way to do that is to make it a habit.  Many people believe it only takes 21 days to form a habit.  According to research out of the College of New London in Australia, it actually takes 66 days to make something a habit.  So if you want to make something a habit, step 1 is to pick the habit, step 2 is to stick with it for at least 66 days.

Something that has helped me in my life is to take what ever I want to make a habit, and get it done before I have to go to work.  A person only has so much “Decision Power” in a day.  By setting my alarm just a little earlier, and waking up with the sole purpose of executing that one action, I guarantee its success.  This is consistent among many of today’s top performers.

So You’ve Identified Your ONE THING, Now You Need TIME BLOCK
If you really want to make something happen, you need to set an appointment with yourself.  When Jay first interviewed with Gary Keller one of the first things he asked for was a copy of his calendar.  What Gary was looking for was to see if Jay was the type of guy who only put things on his calendar to meet with other people, or if he made appointments with himself to do his most important work.

This was one of the first things I began to incorporate after reading The One Thing. The night before I would identify what the highest impact activities I needed to do to be successful in my Medical Device Job, my podcast, my relationships, and my health.  Then I would physically schedule a time in my calendar so there was no question about what I should be doing at any point in the day.  It was already decided.  Now I just needed to execute.

In Jay’s research they found that the people who simply identify an action are effective in getting it done only 30-34% of the time.  By simply taking one additional step and identifying an exact time to get it done are effective at reaching their goals 91% of the time.  This is one little action that leads to massive results, and it has been true for me as well.

Time blocking is great, but often people will still get distracted and not follow the plan they put into place.  This is where triggers come into play. B.J. Fogg runs the Stanford Behavior Lab.  His big break through was that the best way establish a new habit is to piggy back on an old habit.

The formula is “after I (existing habit), I will (new habit)”.  After I brush my teeth, I will floss.  With this simple formula, B.J. was able to get 10,000 people to start flossing their teeth.  Another approach is “within 5 minutes of my alarm going off I will do (new habit).”  “Within 5 minutes of arriving at the office I will do(new habit).”  Give yourself a window of time after a certain trigger to get something done.

For me, I used the window of time approach.  Within 5 minutes of my alarm going off I will sit down and meditate.  After I meditate I will review my goals.  This simple approach help me form the habit of meditating and reviewing my goals every morning with incredible consistency.

Protecting Your Time Block
You have taken the time to plan out your days (time block), you have your triggers in place to help you making the important activities a habit, but still you will find that distractions come up and get in your way from you accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.  There are some simple things you can do to protect your time block.

  1. Establish Bunkers – have a place you can go to where you can reliably get things done.  For some people its an office with a door.  For some, its a cafe at a certain table.  It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is clearly defined and you have control over the environment.  For parents who have to balance work with watching their children, your’s may be time bound and your only option may be waking up early and getting things done before the kids are awake.
  2. Sweep for Mines – does your environment have any distractions built in?  Today, some of the biggest distractions are our cell phones and the internet.  Consider putting your cell phone in airplane mode if you aren’t using it.  From an internet standpoint, consider using one browser for all your social media and any sites requiring you to login with a password, and another browser for your research and 100% work focused activities.  This will force you to make a conscious decision to check email or log into social media.
  3. Bring Supplies – have everything you need to continue working in your bunker.  Consider having water, snacks, and any other materials you may need.  The last thing you want when you are in the zone is to have to get up, leave your bunker, and risk distraction.
  4. Ask for Support – ask your team and those around you to help you protect your time.  For Jay, his team knows that from 10am – 2pm it is his writing time, and to not disturb him.  If they see him run to the bathroom, to not stop him in the hallway and ask him questions.  Those can wait until after 2pm when he has time allotted for that. Communicate what you are accomplishing with your time blocks and ask them to help you stick to it.

The True Cost of Multitasking (a.k.a. “Switch-Tasking”)
What many of us consider to be multitasking is really switch-tasking, switching back and forth between tasks consistently.  What you may not consider is that switching tasks has a negative effect called “lag time” that is hurting your productivity (“switch cost”).  Have you ever been in the zone, knocking work out like a BOSS to suddenly be interrupted by a phone call?  Once you completed that call, how easy was it for you to get right back in the zone?  Was it instantaneous, or did it take you some time to get back there?  That is lag time; the time in between the switching of tasks where your brain has to reorient itself so you can begin that task you are moving toward.  The “switch cost” was the time that was wasted and the work that could have been completed but wasn’t because you had to get BACK INTO the zone.  People lose as much as 24% of their work day to this lag time and for some people, tasks can take up to 200% longer when you switch back and forth consistently.

To think that you can stop multitasking 100% of the time is not realistic.  My challenge to you is when you are working on your ONE THING, work on that ONE THING and avoid multitasking.  In many states, when you drive it is illegal to be working on your phone.  This law exists to help protect your life.  In our day, its not that other live are at stake, but our very livelihood is at stake when we multitask.

To Learn More About Jay Papasan
Buy His Book The One Thing


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