Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thursday Review—The One Thing

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I’m a task-oriented person. It’s how I’m wired.

You’d think with that kind of wiring, I’d be churning out books by the dozens.

Not so much.

In fact, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to get this whole writing thing squeezed into my day.

I’m a wife, a mom of three, and a published author. And that is how I want my priorities to stay…husband, kids, then books.

Not the other way around.

But…this book business? The storytelling and swooning. It’s not just for kicks and giggles. It’s certainly not for the money.

When life crowds out the creating, my calling goes unfulfilled and my spirit shrivels under the tyranny of the urgent. I do the laundry and cook. I read and clean (not much, but still…) and pay bills.

But when I don’t write, I’m not right.

I’m not fully living as the person God intends for me to be.

But how am I supposed to rightly order my world and priorities (God, family, then fiction) and still get it all done?

I don’t have a perfect answer, but I’m a lot closer to it than I was a few months ago.

I picked up a book called The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan and I’ve been absorbing and experimenting with the ideas they present in this quick and engaging read.

Now this book was not specifically written for writers. It is written to apply to your professional life. If you’re a full-time writer, you might be able to apply all these principles. I’m not and I won’t be for a long time, so not everything translates perfectly into my real world.

But way more of it does than doesn’t.

The book is divided into three parts.

Part 1 - The Lies, They Mislead and Derail Us. These “lies” include the idea that everything matters equally (I wanted to highlight most of this chapter), that multitasking is a good idea (so why do we keep trying it), that all we need is more self-discipline to be successful, that we have unlimited willpower, that a balanced life is the ultimate goal and that dreaming big is bad.

Part 2 - The Truth, The Simple Path to Productivity. This section introduces the “focusing question” which can be used to help you find your one thing that you can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary. The Success Habit takes the focusing question and applies it to all the areas of your life that are important to you - your spiritual life, your business life, your health, your relationships. This has been the biggest game changer for me and is revolutionizing the way I plan my days and weeks. Then it’s time to take the questions you’ve been asking and consider multiple answers until you find the best answer.

Part 3 - Extraordinary Results, Unlocking the Possibilities Within You. This section gets into the nitty-gritty of what this looks like. Again, some of this won’t apply to every aspect of the writer’s unique life. I don’t know very many writers who daily go into the office and work 9-5, but it’s good information regardless.

The book concludes with very practical examples of how to apply the focusing question to work on everything from your marriage to your golf swing.

Keller and Papasan contend that it takes around 66 days to form a habit. I haven’t reached the 66 day mark, but I am seeing this “one thing” mentality beginning to pay dividends in my own world.

As a Christian writer, I’ve taken their advice and instead of just asking myself what my “one thing” is, I’ve asked God to direct me and guide me.

I have no interest in doing it all.

I am very interested in doing the things He wants me to do, and not letting a lot of extraneous tasks get in the way.

Want to give it a try? I’d love to know what you think your “one thing” might be.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at


  1. This is confirmation from the Lord. He has been teaching me this. I just did a free webinar with Kary Oberbrunner. His message was the same. Prioritize and focus are the words God is putting on my heart. Thank you so much for this. I shared it on Twitter

    1. Thanks! It's always exciting (and a little terrifying!) when God keeps putting the same words on our heart!! Grace & peace as you prioritize and focus!!

  2. I love this! Totally understand, "When I don't write, I'm not right."

    Retweeting! Blessings~

    1. Thank you, Julie! Sometimes my husband will look at me and say, "You haven't been writing much, have you?" :-)

  3. Yeah, I've had a close relationship with TOTU for years. Being ADD, I'm one of TOTU's favorite targets. But I've learned to close my office door (except it's still a curtain).

  4. I'm gong to order this book. Thanks, Lynn! I'm the same way. When I'm not creating, I feel like I'm shriveling inside. Thank you for the encouragement!

    1. I borrowed my copy from the library. Then kept it until it was overdue. Then paid a fine so high that I should have just bought the thing to begin with! :-)

  5. Excellent post, Lynn. Much to ponder! I feel that God has "confirmed" I should be writing. Like you, when I don't write, I'm off-kilter but it always seems like a constant juggling of priorities. I'm picking up this book. Thanks for the introduction. :)

    1. I keep telling my kids that "we do hard things in this family" (this after they complain about something being too making the bed). ;-) I keep having to remind myself that God didn't call me to easy. We do hard things in God's family, too. Sometimes the hard thing is prioritizing best over good, or choosing to follow a call that not everyone understands. I'm still feeling my way through this, but when I run my to-do list through the questions they ask in this book, I usually find myself writing a lot earlier in the day rather than waiting until I'm wrung out by the day's drama - and often too tired to try. And amazingly enough, the things on the to-do list usually get done, just not in the order I'm used to. Can't wait to hear what you think of it. :-)

  6. just got this book from the library and need to start reading. Thanks for the heads up about its content.

    1. :-) I found it to be a very quick read - the first time through. Then I kept going back over different sections once I started trying to apply it to my real world. Hope you enjoy it!