The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

  • How much I’d Recommend: 4/10
  • Date finished: 2/26/21
  • The One Thing: recommend borrowing from your local library.

I can’t believe the retail price of this book is $24.95. It must be a scam or a joke, perhaps both. This book has no original ideas and the title alone says basically everything there is about the content of the book. Anyhow, if you are still here after all this, read on to my notes from the book.

  • Going small is a simple approach to extraordinary results and it works.
  • The key is over time, one thing at a time.

The six lies between you and success:

  1. Everything matters equally: 80/20 rules, prioritize, say no, do the most important thing.
  2. Multitasking: Don’t do it.
  3. A disciplined life: you already have enough discipline, use powerful habits instead, build a habit at a time
  4. You have unlimited willpower: you don’t. Monitor your willpower use, do the most important thing first.
  5. A balanced life: counterbalance the areas you focus too much on, and… balance your life from period to period.
  6. Big is bad: Think big, think outside the box, don’t ask for permission, don’t fear failure.

Simple task to productivity:

  1. The focus question: what is the one thing?
  2. The success habit: understand and believe your one thing.
  3. The path to great answers: Think big and specific, benchmark and trend for best answer.

Extraordinary result:

  1. Live with purpose: discover your why, absent an answer, pick a direction
  2. Live by priority: backpeddle your 5 year goal to weekly to daily goal.
  3. Live for productivity:block your calendar for your one thing, protect it from peer pressure, outside and inside distractions.
  4. The three commitments:
    1. follow the path of mastery
    2. move from entrepreneurial to purposeful (to break the ceiling of achievement
    3. Take ownership of your outcomes
    4. find the coach

The four thieves of productivity:

  1. Inability to say No
  2. Fear of chaos
  3. Poor health habit
  4. Environment (people around you) doesn’t support your goals

If you feel pretty unsatisfied and a bit confused, this is how the book felt to me even after reading the entire book. All the advice were very generic, and some of them were explained in a more complicated way than it needs to be. Yet, Amazon review is like 4.5 stars… Oh well, hope you learned something useful from my notes and save yourself some time to do something productive.

#13 Ten Things I Learned from Building This Tiny House

After a year of planning, renovation, sweat, and tears, this barn is finally complete! We put it on Airbnb and it’s available for booking now. 

Ten things I learned about building this tiny house almost from scratch:

  1. Have a detailed plan: Plan ahead with a specific layout. I made a 3D model of what it should look like at the beginning of the project to explain to the city inspector what I am trying to achieve.  also helped the contractors to quote me for what needs to be done. If I were to do it again, I would also sketch out where the outlets and lights should be to save time communicating to contractors what needs to be done.
  2. Always interview at least 3 contractors for the same job. Ask them to quote you with line-by-line detail. If they can’t tell you the details, explain what materials to use, or how long it would take, I would not use them no matter how cheap they are.
  3. Don’t cheap out and hire unprofessional contractors. I had a bad experience with a contractor who quoted me very low on an insulation foam spray. I waited for 6 weeks and followed up 20+ times and ended up going with someone else. The second person who charged a reasonable amount was fast, professional, and cleaned up after himself. I should have gone with him in the first place and not cheap out.
  4. Know that there will be hiccups if it is your first time. Everything is solvable under the sun. Someone would have encountered it one way or another. Keep looking, keep asking, keep learning. Don’t give up.
  5. Ask yourself if you really need some of these decorations. Does it have ROI (return on investment)? Can I do without it? Can I make it for cheaper? Ultimately, it is a business, and the numbers ($$$) have to make sense.
  6. Keep track of everything you spent and what you spent so you can estimate better next time.
  7. Ask for help and bring people on the journey. They love to be part of something and feel the achievement. I have a friend who’s helped me out many times when I needed tools or his truck to transport something. Those people are the fairy-god-mothers of my life 🙂 Thank you, Robby!
  8. Having the right tool is VERY important. I am frugal to a fault sometimes. I tried to mix concrete with a power tool + a paint mixer because I didn’t want to purchase another tool to only mix concrete and never use it again. Needless to say, that didn’t go very well. I ended up borrowing my friend’s concrete mixing tool and finished pouring the concrete. 
  9. Be creative and try new things.  I searched up and down Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram on how to install railings, and I never got a good answer from it. Most of what I found were railings for decks, or they are made of metal, or professionally installed (with no details how it was installed). I eventually made a version of the railing first and found it unstable, and then I tried another version that worked better. 
  10. Find friends who have similar hobbies! Finding local friends who have similar hobbies and swap stories and experiences. I didn’t meet friends that are passionate about renovations until towards the end of my renovation. And I am so glad I did because there are so many small tips they gave me that were helpful. Just knowing I am not alone was a big encouragement for me to carry on and finish the tiny house!

Cheers to another project under the belt! 

Check-in Instructions

Arrive at the address. Usually my white Volkswagen is parked in the driveway. You can park on the side of the road in front of the house. The barn is behind the main house. There is a driveway to the left of the house (yellow arrow) that leads to the barn.

The barn in the back.

There is a fence that is latched. Lift the U shape lever and push the gate open. PLEASE CLOSE THIS GATE behind you so my dog does not escape…

There is a path leading to the front door of the barn. Please note the ground is uneven and can be slippery when it’s raining. I try to keep the grass low but they grow like crazy in the spring and summer. 

There is a keypad above the door knobs. The code is in your welcome message. I unlock the door if you arrive during the day time. You will need to use the code if you arrive at night, just for security reasons. 

Feel free to message me if you have any questions or need recommendations on food, what to do, what souvenir to get for friends, etc!

How To Know When To Say Yes

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Hell yeah or no. This is the motto I am living for.

When I first heard this described to me, I was skeptical. I was taught to say yes to almost everything. This is how I built my career and found opportunities in life. It has proven to be successful. 

The most valuable currency we have is our time in this world. Everyone is overloaded, overworked, and overcommitted. That’s why this idea of saying no is so appealing and important. Use this system to narrow in on our focus in life excites us will save a lot more time.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

I first tried this philosophy on my tiny house project. I had some reservations about how hard it would be for me to finish this project on my own. I wasn’t sure if the city would even allow it. I thought maybe I could spend my time relaxing or traveling. Ultimately, I thought, is it a “hell yeah” to build a tiny house? HELL YEAH, it would be so cool! So I went for it.

Looking back, all of the projects I have taken on and kept on going are “hell-yeah” projects, the CPA exam, running a marathon, hiking, and backpacking trips.

Most of our “dilemmas” in life do not have an absolute right or wrong answers, so the best way to make a decision for you is to only work on projects that excite the hell out of you. Should I go with saving for retirement or pay off the mortgage? Should I stay in the current job or move to a big city? Should I get married? Have kids? They are all absolutely IMPORTANT questions, but there is no one answer. Focusing on your energy on multiple things at once, or worse, not making a decision, will actually cost you the most valuable resource you have, your time. This is why we should eliminate projects that aren’t a “hell-yeah” for us. Say no to them so we can give our full-self to the projects we love.

It is easy to explain this system of saying yes, but it’s actually hard to implement. Here are some of the decisions I’ve made saying no by using the “hell yeah or no” method. My thought process is not always straight forward but reflecting back, I could have saved more time and contemplation if I went with the system of decision fully.

  • I was very excited about learning beekeeping at the end of 2020. At first, I was told it will be just $10 to attend a beekeeping seminar for 4 weeks (1 day a week) before making my decision. This class was canceled, and the beekeeper asked me if I wanted to jump in by observing him, but I will have to buy $300+ worth of gear. I didn’t feel the hell-yeah anymore because I wasn’t sure what beekeeping would mean since I haven’t taken the class. After two days of contemplation, I said no. Reflection: I could have arrived at this answer faster, but I was afraid of rejecting someone else.
  • I signed up for a marathon in Seattle in 2020 that was postponed by the pandemic. However, I don’t feel the excitement of flying over to Seattle then drive 3 hours to the start line (in the mountains), and spending $800+ just to run a marathon. I said no after contemplating for a week. Reflection: Having signed up and paid for the marathon itself already has made my decision a lot harder. But it is a sunk cost at this point and should not be part of my decision-making. Hence, a simple “is this marathon still a hell-yeah?” would have given me the answer.

I am planning on implementing this rule more in my decision-making and see where it goes. 

What is something that you do to decide whether to take on a project or not?