Hectic Modern Life
We live in a world with so many distractions, choices, things to do, places to go and people to please but the human brain has not evolved quickly enough to deal with it all.
In some cases, this can lead to overwhelm, anxiety, and depression.
With this in mind, I want to ask you a question…
ARE YOU LIVING THE LIFE THAT YOU WANT TO LIVE?
Both of these books have relieved me of feelings of guilt and have helped me develop a more compassionate understanding of myself and other people.
The One Thing
The One Thing recommends working on one key thing early every morning, when your energy is high, and before all the other distractions clog up your day.
It reminds me of the rocks, pebbles and sand story…
A professor stood before his class with an empty jar.
He filled the jar with large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full, to which they responded, “yes, the jar is full.”
He then added small pebbles to jar and asked again, “is the jar full?” His students responded, “yes, the jar is full.”
The professor then poured sand into the jar and asked again, “is the jar full?” His students agreed that the jar was finally full.
The jar signifies one’s life.
The rocks are equivalent to the most important things – family, health and relationships. If the pebbles and sand were removed, the jar, and your life, would still be full.
The pebbles represent the smaller things in your life – career, wealth and possessions. These things, although somewhat important, often come and go, and are not permanent or essential to your overall well-being.
The sand represents the menial stuff – chores, emails and social media. These things don’t mean much to your life as a whole and are usually only done to fill time or get small tasks accomplished.
The moral here is that if you start with sand, you will not have room for rocks or pebbles.
This is true in life also.
If you spend all of your time doing small, insignificant things, you will run out of room for the things that are actually important to you.
In order to live a more fulfilling life, you should learn to prioritise the important things – your “one thing” each day.
Worry about the sand later.
My One Thing
The One Thing has taught me that I don’t have to do and be everything now. I have time.
In the Toa Te Ching, Lao Tzu talks about keeping life simple and not getting carried away by the world of ‘ten thousand things.’ If Loa Tzu was giving this advice in a book written 2,500 years ago, when life had much fewer distractions, how significant is it now?
After reading The One Thing I now focus on one key task at a time and I do all key tasks first.
An example for me is exercise. At the moment, I just do kettlebell swings, that’s it, One Thing.
I get my workout done, its simple and it keeps my brain free for creative thinking.
Two principles that really help with this are:
- Pareto’s 80:20 principle
What 20% of tasks (usually smaller), make up 80% of my happiness, health and personal development?
I do those things first.
- Tim Urban’s 100 Blocks A Day principle
If I sleep for 8 hours per day, I am left with 16 hours, or 96 blocks of ten minutes.
I then use these blocks in a similar way to a monetary value; for example, is 10 minutes meditation worth a block? Is 10 minutes exercise worth a block? Is 20 minutes reading worth two blocks?
It makes filling life with the most important things first much easier to grasp.
Here is a printable sheet of 100 blocks: 100 blocks | My Home Vitality
Willpower Doesn’t Work
Benjamin Hardy explains that willpower wears out like your biceps when doing curls, so we should shape our environment to help us achieve our goals, so that willpower becomes incidental, using it sparingly, if at all.
An example of this would be not having any junk food in the house. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. You’re setting the game up to win.
My Willpower Doesn’t Work
Willpower Doesn’t Work has released a lot of guilt that used to build up when I wasn’t getting thing done.
I used to rely on self-control to ensure that I completed all of my most important tasks but when I failed, I felt like sh*t.
I now keep a Kettlebell in my lounge and every time I have to walk past it, I pick it up and do ten swings.
If I walk through the lounge tent times in a day, that’s one hundred swings, job done, no willpower, needed!
Combining The One Thing and Willpower Doesn’t Work
Putting the two concepts together, you can pick your One Thing and set your environment up so that you can achieve that One Thing, avoiding all the other clutter and bullsh*t that coerces you away from the life that YOU want.
Remember the old pinball machines where you used to fire a steel ball around a table, bumping, banging and knocking things for points?
That’s what life gets like sometimes, you get startled by the morning alarm, bounce around from task to task and build points by fulfilling other people’ s requests, demands, and judgements.
Don’t be a pinball, pick YOUR one thing and set YOUR environment to get Your one thing done.
It’s YOUR life, live it well.