Book Review: The ONE Thing by Keller and Papasan

The One Thing
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  • Last modified: January 13, 2017

“Connect today to all your tomorrows. It matters.” ~ Gary Keller

I heard about this book from a wonderful client who asked me to write about goal setting. It was going to be featured in an e-book.  When I first read his instructions, I didn’t know what he meant by “the one thing.” He just said to cover it. I thought he meant to pick out the best thing a person needs to set good goals.

However, on a hunch a week after starting the project, I Googled “the one thing” and came across this book. After a quick facepalm, I confirmed that he was talking about the book. So, I bought it and was astounded by the way this book helped me with a client project, and became the answer to some things in my personal life at the time.

Why I’m Doing A Review

This book has made a big impact in the way I manage my personal life, day job, and my freelancing business.

And all my book reviews are one part accountablity (see my about page), and one part “tell it on the mountain.” But only because I think this book could change your life if you’re ready for it.

When I Bought It And When I Finished It

I purchased this book in August 2016, for research on a client project and partly for my own curiosity.

I finally finished the book October 2nd after getting serious about reading every day.

Review Disclaimer

I am NOT receiving any compensation for this review.

I DO have an Amazon Associate’s affiliate link in this article. If you buy this book through my link, I get a small commission, at no cost to you. The commission I receive is from and NOT the owners or publishers of this book.

I’m sharing this review because I think this book can help you if you’re ready for it.

What This Book Is About

In my opinion, this book is the standard operating procedure for anyone looking for purpose and productivity in their lives.

Here is a list of some of the topics covered in this book:

  • The common myths of being productive
  • How to set the right goals for yourself
  • Finding your life purpose so you can focus on the right goals. From there you can set priorities. That’s how you become productive, not the other way around.
  • Purpose = Priority = Productivity = Profit (p. 134)
  • About not doing the best you can at something. But doing something the best it can be done.
  • Time blocking (my favorite)
  • Staying accountable
  • Accepting chaos
  • And making sure you’re pursuing things that fit in your current environment.

In a nutshell, this book teaches you how to take control of things in your area of concern. Not all at once, but by assessing, managing, and changing the little things so you can get extraordinary results.

It’s truly about the journey, not the destination. Because in the end, we will regret what we didn’t do more than what we did (That last part is attributed to Mark Twain).

Who This Book Is For

This book is for you if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stuck, or restless in what ever goes on in your life.

If you feel like there’s not enough time to pursue your passions, no matter how big or small.

Or if you’re looking for the best way to create goals that will make you happy.

And you’ll absolutely love this book if you’re a fan of productivity and time hacking.

What Touched Me Most About This Book

The entire book has touched me. There are so many quotes, ideas, and plans mentioned in the book that I’ll be referring back to it for months. Just to remind myself of my purpose and keep me on the goals I’ve chosen.

But there are two things that really stand out to me (and one thing that confirmed my suspicions):

Connect today to all your tomorrows

Often, when we sit down to ponder our goals, we look at the biggest goal we would love to “someday” achieve. Sometimes it gets overwhelming because of how big the goal is. And can’t see how our current situations would ever allow us to get to that goal.

Keller points out how to break that big goal into smaller laser-focused goals that start today.

He says that if you connect what you do today to all your tomorrows, you’ll create a domino effect that leads to reaching your goals.

When we stop doing our ONE thing that’s tied to our bigger goals, we lose focus and never end up achieving that goal.

The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying

Keller explains how we can learn more about moving forward in life by listening to those who are at the end of their life.

This one made me cry and was the heaviest lesson in the book.

But it’s the most profound.

Bronnie Ware did research while caring for the elderly and dying. She asked them about the regrets they had. She compiled the most repeated ones into a book, The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying.”

A couple of the ones mentioned in Keller’s book were “I wish that I’d let myself be happier.” And “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

This chapter made me look back on my life.

I spent my 20’s and 30’s waiting for happiness to happen. Thinking it was this magical thing that would appear once I did ______.

While in my 30’s I looked back on my 20’s and shook my head. Now in my 40’s I look back at my 30’s and shake my head.

There’s no excuse for me now to let my 50-year-old self look back at my 40’s and shake her head.

I want my 50, 60, 70, and 80-year old self to look back on each decade and say “Atta girl! You did good!”

Time Blocking

When I started my freelancing business in 2015, I was just about to graduate from college. My plan was to take all the time blocks I used to study and replace them with time spent managing a business.

It was going to be an even trade.

Hey, I blocked time out time to study all those years, why not keep those time blocks in place to build a business.

The idea of time blocking was not new to me. I just didn’t call it time blocking.

I used to set timers for studying and writing papers in the evenings and weekends. But it wasn’t until I started my business that I started to time block everything. It was out of necessity because I was loosing my mind!

I couldn’t find time to write! Ever. I couldn’t find time to read or manage the business. It was frustrating until I got a business coach. She told me to time block tasks. She reminded me how to do it.

And this book reinforced the importance of Time Blocking.

Keller explains that time blocking “is a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done.”

I’ve been able to get more blog posts and client work done since setting time blocks for my business and personal tasks. Tasks like writing, editing, reading, and relaxation

It also ensures that you’re taking care of yourself. You only have so much time in a day and everyone gets the same amount of time. Time blocking (or time budgeting) forces you to prioritize your blocks. Focus on what needs to be done and leave out what doesn’t based off your goals.

Time blocking helps me to Slipstream…more about that on my next book review.

What Are Others Saying

This book came out in 2012. Just a quick run down of stats.

In Goodreads, the rating is a 4.19 out of 5 with 8249 ratings and 843 written reviews.

Amazon reviews are a 4.7 out of 5 with 1305 reviews.

You can get resources, view discussions, webinars, graphs, and more at

My Final Frugal Thoughts

This book is not a one-time read. And it’s certainly not a quick read, although it is only 225 pages.

I took my time reading it so I could absorb every lesson. I made notes and pondered the ideas in this book every time I finished a chapter, just to let it sink in.

And just to confirm that God has a hand in my life. This book appeared the moment I was ready for it.

The guy upstairs recently placed another book in my hands that perfectly complements The ONE Thing. That’s Slipstream Time Hacking by Benjamin P. Hardy.

Where The ONE Thing tells you how to create your road map and how to travel it. Slipstream Time Hacking explains what happens when you do your ONE thing.

I’m currently working on reading Slipstream and will be setting my review here by the end of November.

I’m so excited!

Your Turn

If you’ve read this book please let me know. Tell me what you think about it and how it’s helped you (or not helped you).

And if you have any questions about the book, don’t hesitate to ask below.

Happy Reading!


If you’re looking to do better with your time and your goals, this book is a required read.


There are no cons for this book.


Hey there! In 2018, I paid off about $65,000 of debt after finally getting serious about it. That led me to becoming a freelance personal finance writer. Here on my blog I like to write about managing money and solo-business topics. Hire me to write informative content for your blog on topics of personal finance and small business. let's work together!