The Power of One
In today’s lesson we examine the power of one. Of focusing on one thing and one thing only. Of ACTUALLY making one thing the priority. So many of us try to do too many things at once. We try to learn too much, thinking amassing information is the way to go. And before you criticize my ultrareading method, I counter how when ultrareading you are focusing your efforts on single topics. What I’m talking about is spending far too much time consuming news, social media, videos, different areas of learning that aren’t applicable to your life, and hobby topics.
Reading 100’s of tweets an hour isn’t learning. Reading dozens of blog posts, reddit threads, or even Medium articles isn’t a good use of time. Trying to learn multiple subjects in your spare time simply stretches you too thin. Being aware of too many things is a bad thing. It’s not good to be increase your stimulation when you are already in an overstimulated state. For instance, you could be like me, wanting to learn to code, but spending too much time making and reading tweets, reading random posts and articles linked by others, answering random Quora questions, reading the news, and then finding things to comment on with the hope that someone responds, maybe even trolling in order to get some interaction.
It’s all a distraction. Before I would know it, I would spend hours overstimulating my brain, and then I couldn’t get anything productive done. It’s not always enough to “swallow the frog” and then do your unproductive things. Sometimes you have to swallow frogs all day. Never be afraid of the frogs. Okay, that sounds hokey, the whole frog thing is a simple idea that is supposed to get you to take immediate action on your highest priority items that you don’t actually want to do. But if any of us want to get things done we need to be able to keep swallowing those frogs throughout the day, not just first thing. This is because some things are multi-stage or take all day to do.
So, let me not expound too much, let me get straight to the bullet points, the most important parts of this idea of The Power of One.
Simple Idea: The majority of your day has to be focused on your highest priority, whatever that is. (examples include: fitness, learning a skill, getting a relationship, making more money, getting a job, upgrading a skill, etc)
- Begin your One by eliminating every extra thing. Block ALL social media sites. I have blocked twitter and reddit, which were taking up too much of my time. Ignore ALL news. NOTHING in the news is important to you. Literally nothing. You don’t have the energy to deal with all of this stimulation. You are going back to the hunter-gatherer days where you sit in one spot waiting for a deer to come along and you have nothing else going on. Or the farmer days where you are plowing a field and nothing else is happening, or doesn’t happen, until you’re done. When we work at our computers or keep our smartphones on us, we are constantly aware of the infinity of the internet.
- Identify your One thing. For me, it’s learning to code. This is my top priority over everything else. There can’t be anything more important that comes before it, because it’s there for a reason. Once you identify your One thing, you need to justify it, find the reason for it. For me, it’s to get a better job I am suited for with a livable wage. For you it may be fitness because your last visit to your doctor showed you were at risk of heart disease or diabetes. Or it may be getting a job because you are unemployed or recently laid off. Or it could be a desire for a relationship because you want to share your life with someone.
- Identify what you need to do to engage in your One. For me, it’s to hop on codecademy and go through the lessons, and then start creating my app. For others it will be constructing a workout plan, going out and meeting strangers or letting your social circle know you are looking for someone, or polishing your resume and finding every job site you can.
- Reiterate you cannot focus on anything else. I don’t even care that the Queen of England died or that polio is now considered a threat in my state, those things don’t matter to me, that don’t make a difference in my life (if I really think about it), and they waste my time and energy like vampires.
The biggest takeaway is how you cannot, you absolutely cannot, keep allowing the random information of the internet to steal your energy. Imagine your smartphone as a tiny vampire that sticks its fangs in you and sucks your energy out every time you hold it. Imagine every website as some kind of pornography that destroys your ability to regulate dopamine. When I waste most of my day with social media and similar sites I wake up the next day with a lot of pain in my body from the tension I’ve created by suppressing my desire to get things done. When I work diligently at my priorities I sleep like a baby and wake up with no pain.
We are not made for all of the information available to us from the internet, especially when everything you read is constantly in flux, or when tons of things contradict each other and your brain has to process all the various illogicalities. Or whenever you read something that makes you mad and you want to correct that person, or say something so others aren’t led astray. It’s all a waste of time and energy. ALL OF IT. It’s also full of negativity, the more time I spend on the internet the more I think everyone is angry all the time. That, or they’re incredibly obnoxious.
But what about other things that are also priorities? What about them? Yeah, Adam, what about them? Okay, here’s my solution:
The power of One should not reach Two. So, 1 is your big priority, then .1 will be family, PLUS .1 (so now we are at 1.2) for health. Then, let’s say, house chores, hobby #1, recreation # 1, reading, writing on Medium, and work. That puts us at 1.8, so we only have room for one more thing to add. None of these lesser ones should be a daily priority. Your One is the daily priority and non-negotiable. Your point-ones should be something you don’t have time for every day. If you have time for all of those every day then you aren’t spending enough time on your One. But Adam, shouldn’t family be top priority? NO! Do you take your spouse out on a date every night? Do you take your kid to the water park every day? Those can be done frequently, but not every day, that is silly unless you already have it made. If you already have it made then come up with any life hack you want and go away.
And so we have it, the Power of One, a way to manage your time in a general sense. A reminder to cut out every single non-essential thing, including all forms of social media and news. None of that stuff applies to you, none of it will help you achieve your goal unless your goal is that thing in itself. Even being subscribed to r/learningprogramming on reddit was a distraction. I ended up reading story after story of people learning or arguing over what to learn or how to get a job. I didn’t actually spend time on that forum learning to code, so now I have it blocked.
We can all do this, we can all reduce our activities to the single most important thing we know we should be doing. Good luck out there.