96: Essentialism and Finding Your ONE Thing

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In Hawaii and on the plane home I read two books with very similar themes:

  1. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller
  2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Both titles share the common message of FOCUS — de-cluttering your day, your work, your mind, and your life.

They came at a good time because I was starting to feel overwhelmed with projects and wanting to pursue new ideas and opportunities as they came up.

And keep up with email.

And still have free time.

The books will get you thinking:

  • What is enough?
  • What should I say no to?
  • What do I REALLY want?

Just a quick solo episode, talking through my notes on the two books. If you haven’t read them yet, I encourage you to check out the episode and then the books and let me know what you think.

And you have read one or both of the books, curious to hear if you pulled out the same takeaways.

I’m still not sure what exactly my ONE Thing is, and I think that’s OK. When deciding on new projects and daily tasks, maybe it’s easier to take note of what your ONE Thing is NOT.

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In this show I cover:

  • “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
  • Richard Branson’s #1 productivity hack.
  • Why my 30-day challenges may not have been long enough to form a sticky habit.
  • The Focusing Question: What’s the ONE Thing I can do right now such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
  • The Purpose-Priority-Productivity-Profit Pyramid.
  • Scheduling appointments with yourself: “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
  • Urgency vs. importance.
  • “Less, but better.”
  • The 3 mindset sentences of Essentialism.
  • “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”
  • Carving out time just to read or THINK à la Warren Buffet.
  • #NoMeetingsFridays
  • Your perfect average day.
  • Zero-based budgeting.

All that, plus the Side Hustle Shih Tzu makes an unwanted appearance around the 19 min. mark.

What do you think? What’s your ONE Thing?

Back to your regularly scheduled programming next week!

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

9 thoughts on “96: Essentialism and Finding Your ONE Thing”

  1. Hey Nick,

    This came at a perfect time for me. As a solopreneur working mostly from home, I find myself multitasking and trying to do too much a lot of the time. I know it’s killing my productivity and I’ve resolved to change.

    As you reminded me, it takes longer than one might think for new habits to form. Gotta stop beating myself up about it and just keep chugging along one thing at a time.

    I’ll have to give those books a read. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  2. I need to add these to my reading list; I can definitely identify with what they are addressing. But I’m always conscious of Oliver Burkeman’s warning in his book “The Antidote”, there is a part of our brain that gets wise to what we’re doing and often sabotages it.

    Coincidentally, I’m also a new user to Headspace and will review it in my next blog. I’m feeling pretty positive about it right now. But, there is a cost.

  3. Hello. I’m not sure if you have read The Power of Full Engagement but, based on this podcast, I think you would enjoy it.

    The ONE thing. Some people grow up with standard “one things”. They want to be a veterinarian, a gardener, a mechanic, etc… Stuff that have jobs and a collective understanding of what the job pertains. Other people aren’t as lucky and they try to figure out what their one thing is but there isn’t a job title for it. I think some people figure something out and sadly some don’t.

    I’ve been in a mid-life crisis since middle school. I think I have enough figured out that I can at least keep from making some of the same mistakes over again. I have always focused on making money and I know, to some varying degree, that is usually a bad path to go down.

    Thanks for doing your podcasts. I really enjoy them.


  4. Do u think this books will help my situation, cos I have so many projects I want to execute and I have limited resources. Just so ambigous @ the moment, I want all done buh which to start with is my problem

  5. Man oh man, my favorite episode so far, Nick!

    The ONE Thing blew the lid off my capped freelancer schedule — client projects, reply to emails, send proposals, meet in person with prospects, finish small projects to clear schedule for big ones.

    I was working 7 days a week, anywhere from 6 hours a day to 15 hours. Did not take a week off for 3 months until “motivation exhaustion” put me in the ER. When a nurse looks at you with a look of panic and says, “Do not worry sir, we’re not going to let you die.” you know something has to change.

    For me, I really, really wanted that to be applying The One Thing’s principles in my life. Unfortunately, there is a lot of what-to-do and very little how-to-do-it.

    So to get my sanity and health back, I created an Excel spreadsheet formula that, with the click of a mouse, arranges ALL of my tasks in order of priority for me and spits out just ONE thing to do at a time. No more frazzled schedules overflowing with work, debating on which item to do next, or wanted to shoot something out of frustration.

    Thank you Nick for reminding me why it’s so critical to remain on the ONE thing’s path. Cheers!

  6. Hi Nick,

    I manage marketing for The ONE Thing and wanted to thank you for appreciating our book, and recommending it to your listeners. After noticing this episode I had to reach out to you.

    We have a monthly webinar series hosted by The ONE Thing co-author Jay Papasan, and back in May we had Greg McKeown (author of Essentialism) as a guest. If you’re interested in listening to that episode you can find it in our webinar archive here: https://www.the1thing.com/resources/webinars


    – Ian


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