Right now I’m reading a great book by Gary W. Keller called ‘The One Thing’.
I’m only about halfway through but it’s got me thinking a lot. It really makes a lot of sense.
The main point of the book so far (as you might have guessed) is that you need to have a narrow focus. Namely, you ought to focus on your ‘one thing’.
Keller says to ‘ask yourself what is the ONE THING I could do to achieve my desired outcome.
Not only does the book focus on sticking to one course of action for achieving your goal, it also talks about only focusing on only one goal at a time.
I’m also reading another book at the moment (I tend to read multiple books at once), and this one is called ‘Deep Work’.
The author Cal Newport takes a really scientific approach in his book. He cites study after study and gives many examples throughout the book. Newport is a Professor, and has written the book like a research paper. It’s not my ideal style of writing, maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to get through, but the book makes some great points.
Deep Work talks about the fact that you can only be in a deep state of work for a short period of time, typically maxing out at around 4 hours per day.
The book essentially dispels the myth of multitasking, and reveals that if you want to achieve anything extraordinary, it’s likely that you’re going to need to focus deeply on one thing for an extended period of time.
Both of these books combine together to form the message of not only focusing on one goal at a time, but focusing intently on that goal, avoiding multitasking and distractions, and devoting a large portion of your undivided attention to working on your goal each and every day.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I have a lot of goals. I talk about them in my monthly progress reports, where I share the progress I’ve made each month.
I spread myself pretty thin with these goals. I have goals for my publishing business, fitness goals, learning goals (like learning a second language), travel goals, investment goals, and more.
This past month has been quite an unproductive one for me. For most of it I’ve been island hopping, and spending time doing some sightseeing along with catching up with some friends. It’s been a great time, but I’ve made very little progress, and in some areas I fear I’ve even gone backwards.
It’s like I’m reading these two books at the perfect time. It’s helped me to reach somewhat of a minor epiphany, even if it’s something I subconsciously already knew.
I need to narrow my focus.
I think that instead of trying to achieve everything at once, I need to dedicate a few months at a time to just 1-2 areas of my life. I need to spend time each day doing what Newport refers to as ‘deep work’, where I’m fully immersed in a task for an extended period of time, giving it my undivided attention.
The other areas will receive either no attention at all, or only minimal time each day.
The key for me will be a routine.
I progress much more rapidly when I’m in a solid routine. One where I’m getting up at the same time each day, in the same place, eating the same (or similar) things, working out at the same time, and working at the same time and place, in a work environment I feel comfortable in.
In the past month I’ve spent time in Pattaya, Koh Larn, Krabi town, Ao Nang, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Lanta. I’ve stayed in 7 different rooms during that time. It has been the total opposite of a routine, and my business, health, and learning goals have all suffered as a result.
For a couple of reasons, I’m about to board a plane back to Melbourne Australia. I’ve got some family to visit that are unwell, and I’ve also decided that it will be easier to get a Russian Visa back home than doing so in Thailand. (Russian Embassies don’t like Aussies too much apparently!)
I’ll be staying in Australia for one month, which will give me the chance to fall into a great routine and get back on track. But, it will also give me time to narrow my focus as per the aforementioned book’s advice.
One of my main focuses for the past year has been to learn Russian. It’s been right around 1-year since I first began to study the language, and in May I’ll be put to the test when I visit there for the first time. I can’t help but imagine however, just how proficient I’d be at speaking the language if it was all I’d focused on over the past year.
If I studied it exclusively for several hours per day, I feel like I’d be near fluent by now.
But, that’s not the case.
At best, I’m conversational on a low-to-medium level, I can read (slowly), and over the past month I haven’t studied at all – meaning I’ve probably forgotten a lot of stuff!
Learning Russian (or any language) is fun and something I enjoy. But, it doesn’t give me any instant benefit. It doesn’t help me to earn more money.
Because of that, it often doesn’t get prioritised, and with my many focuses it can be easy to neglect.
So I’m going to give this ‘One Thing’ idea a shot, and over the next month(s) will be narrowing my focus on the following areas that I think are most important.
Area #1 = Health
Money comes and goes, but your health is a constant. It’s always there, effects you daily, and is something that needs to be focused on. It’s also something I’m quite passionate about. Unfortunately, I’ve not been very disciplined with my health over the past month.
I’ve ate poorly, drank too much, and not slept much either.
I definitely don’t feel 100%.
In Melbourne I’ll be doing a simple gym program, aiming to get to gym 4 days per week. This won’t take much of my focus each day at all, leaving much more time for deep work.
I’ll be cooking my own meals once again which will make it easier to make good food choices, and I may even pre-cook all of my meals for the week on a Sunday. That way I won’t need to waste time on a daily basis in the kitchen.
Doing these things will have a great impact on my health, without taking much of my time or energy that could be focused on my ‘One Thing’ instead.
Area #2 = Business
My health won’t really require much focus and energy; instead it’s more reliant on having a routine.
My real ONE THING that I will use my focus reserves for each day is business.
I’ve been doing well financially these past few months, but I know I’ve been slacking. I have a big opportunity to grow my income streams, and I need to take advantage of the opportunity while it’s still there and while I still have time.
This year I’ll be spending a few months in Europe, jumping between countries regularly. It will be near-impossible for me to grow my business during that time. I’ll have my hands full simply maintaining it.
So, the next couple of months while I’m not moving around too much I need to triple down on business and make it my ONE THING.
Over the next month I’ll be re-filming and updating my Freedom Self Publishing Kindle course.
I’ll also be editing books and publishing like a madman.
I have a large collection of unedited books that need to be proofread, updated, and formatted.
The publishing process is simple, and is mostly outsourced to virtual assistants. That’s something I could do while I’m in Europe.
Before I leave Melbourne though I’d like to edit these books and have them sitting there, ready to go. I’m also aiming to publish 5-6 books during the next month as well.
I won’t be focusing on any other business ventures, although there are a few new areas I would like to explore, such as Amazon Tactical Arbitrage. I can’t spread myself too thin, and need to focus deeply on the things that will produce the biggest results.
I want to set myself up financially this year, and these next couple of months will be the foundation for doing so.
Area #3 = Learning Russian
I’ve been seriously slacking in this area, and am honestly a little disappointed with my efforts lately.
I’ll be heading to Russia very soon, and so I want to improve in this area over the next month.
This IS NOT my ONE THING, and will be secondary to my business goals.
I won’t be trying to study for 3-4 hours per day. Instead, I’ll be aiming for around 1-hour per day, mostly focused on reinforcing what I’ve learned thus far, and improving my vocabulary further. Consistency and a routine will be the key here.
What My Days Will Look Like
So what will a typical day look like?
Well, I’ll be aiming to wake up at around 7am each morning. From there, I’ll spend an hour or so studying Russian while my mind is fresh. It’s important that I’m not studying when I’m mentally/physically drained, as I’m just not going to remember anything.
After the short study session, I’ll be getting ready and right into work for 3-4 hours.
This will be intense, focused work.
Most people are used to the typical 8+ hour work days. The truth is though, the majority of these work days are filled with mundane tasks, procrastinating, being interrupted, and trying (poorly) to multitask.
Deep Work provides evidence that even the best deep workers (mostly Authors, interestingly) usually can only focus deeply on a single task for around 4-hours per day.
My 4-hours of work will not include checking emails or playing around on social media.
For my work time each day I’ll be switching my phone off, going somewhere quiet, and will either film/edit video lessons for my course relaunch, or edit and publish books.
With today’s ‘hustle’ culture, we’re made to believe that more hours at work is better.
The problem is, most people are spending their time simply being busy, not actually hustling. My intense 4 hours each day will be far superior to the average worker’s 8.
Finally, my work will be done by around 1pm, at which point I’ll likely be heading to the gym for around an hour.
And that, will pretty much conclude my work day.
I don’t really take weekends, so this will likely be a consistent 7-day per week process.
I’m excited to see what I can get done with this plan. Spending a few hours per day, intensely focused on only a few key things, instead of my usual process of spending a full day spread between a million different tasks.
What I Won’t Be Focusing On
So, what won’t I be spending my time doing?
When I compare where I spend my time versus the returns I get, it’s pretty clear that the time I spend on both this blog and on my YouTube channel doesn’t have much of an ROI.
On top of that, I’ve come across a lot of negativity lately online directed at anyone putting themselves out there and trying to teach others. Mostly it’s directed at other people, a lot of whom are my friends and are genuinely good people, but also at myself.
I know there’s plenty of you out there who respect and appreciate the information that people share, but at the moment it’s simply not worth my focus and energy.
This blog was originally started as a way for me to keep myself accountable. I find that it’s a good method for doing so, and as such, I’ll continue to post an update once per month covering what I’ve got up to, and also the progress I’ve made on my goals. Stay tuned for my March in review blog post coming soon!
If you get some sort of motivation from those posts, awesome. If not, don’t read them – they’re really written for my own benefit anyway.
I may write other posts as well, but I’m making no promises.
As I said, my time is much better spent publishing books right now – even if I’d prefer to be writing a blog post instead.
If you take a look at my YouTube channel, you’ll notice that a lot of the videos are gone.
I’ve decided to clean it up a bit and get rid of most of the Kindle-focused videos.
I really do enjoy filming my travels and lifestyle, and sharing the videos online. It’s really fun to look back on at my different adventures. I’d prefer for the channel to be mostly Vlogs and travel videos, rather than being so focused on business. To be honest, I’m not very excited to talk about Kindle. My course is one thing, but having it be the focus of my YouTube channel, blog, interviews, and the Facebook messages/emails I receive each day can be a little much. Kindle makes me money, but it’s not so exciting anymore.
I think that I’ll soon create one, big, ultimate Kindle publishing tutorial video for the channel. Other than that, I won’t be going into specific details there about strategy. If you want that, I’ve been on a number of podcasts and interviews discussing my process.
If you really are interested in building a publishing business, you can always take a look at my course: www.freedomselfpublishing.com
I’m very thankful to everyone who follows me on both this blog and also at my YouTube channel. Thanks to sharing online, I’ve met dozens of people in person as I’ve travelled, and have received hundreds of messages and emails from people who have enjoyed my content.
These things are really cool and fulfilling, but putting out more content really isn’t worth my time & effort at the moment.
I’ll try and put out content occasionally (expect more videos once I’m travelling again), but don’t expect too much over the next few months.
To Sum It Up
I have a really big opportunity at the moment.
I’m earning more than most full-time workers in Australia. Last time I checked I believe my monthly income landed me in the top 5%.
I’ve managed to achieve that without being purely focused. I know just how much more seriously I could take my work. I really haven’t been living and operating at a high standard.
I also have a number of business opportunities on the horizon that I plan to take advantage of over the next 12 months.
By next year, there’s no reason why I couldn’t be earning in excess of $1000 per day.
These are numbers that not long ago seemed so impossible to me, but I’ve slowly crept closer towards them.
It’s on me now to narrow my focus, take my business and goals seriously, engage in deep work, and simply, make it happen!
I encourage you to check out both The One Thing, and also Deep Work.
If nothing else, try prioritising your goals and cutting out any action that isn’t bringing you closer to those goals in an efficient manner.
Thanks for following the blog and taking the time to read,
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