“The fact of the matter is that aiming discipline at the right habit gives you license to be less disciplined in other areas. When you do the right thing, it can liberate you from having to monitor everything.” — Gary Keller, The One Thing
Doing the right thing begins with knowing what the right thing is, of course. Keller points out that that right thing ought to be our one thing we prioritize in a day. Not the only thing we focus on, mind you, but the box we must check before we move on to other things. His recommendation is time blocking, and working on it until you’ve achieved your goal for the day.
As a daily blogger, that one thing for me is writing before I move on to other work or family time or exercise. The question is, what are we saying no to that we might say yes to our one thing? One might say the answer is that if you’re focused on the right thing, it doesn’t matter what you say no to. Everything aligns when we focus on the right thing, which Keller said more efficiently than I just did.
But is writing a daily blog an appropriate one thing? Shouldn’t exercise or family or work be prioritized before writing? It’s not like I’m paying the mortgage with the stream of cash coming in from blogging revenue. The thing is, blogging isn’t about generating revenue for me (you won’t find an advertisement, a Substack subscription offer, or even a basic email subscription. No, the writing is free and probably too hard to find, and is simply a process of documenting my thoughts and observations. Come along for the ride or opt out—for it’s either welcome or no hard feelings, really.
So what comes after the right thing has been checked off becomes the next one thing. We generally know what this ought to be, the trick is to time block for this second and third right thing the way we do our one thing. Does this make us overly structured in our days? Perhaps, but that which we don’t prioritize often gets overlooked. We must schedule ourselves lest we forget ourselves.
So maybe the question shouldn’t be, “what’s the right thing?”, but “what things, accomplished, will make this a day without regrets?” More succinctly, decide what to be and go be it. Of course, everything begins with one. But it shouldn’t end there.