Do This Every Day to be Successful

We all want our days to be successful, right? When I read the Gary Keller book, “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results,” I began to think about the success of my day differently. The book made me rethink how I schedule my day, but even more importantly, how I think about my time. Time is my (and all of our) most precious commodity. It can’t be bought or replaced.

Here’s how I put this into action…

On the scheduling front, I’m a morning person. Maybe it reflects getting older (yikes, I hope I’m not becoming my parents!) or perhaps it is because I start my day with a caffeine buzz. Regardless, I know that I do my best work first thing in the morning. Therefore, I always start with what I perceive to be the most significant accomplishment to achieve for the day, and I tackle it when I’m at my best — my most creative and thoughtful self. It sets me up for success the rest of the day. Once I’ve taken care of “the ONE thing,” I’m more present and calm throughout the rest of my day. I can engage with my clients, friends, and family without feeling anxious or worrying about critical projects.

When thinking about my time, I focus on people and activities that I care about deeply. While my Southern mother raised me to be a people pleaser, I’ve moved away from that behavior once seeing the long-term effects. People-pleasing keeps you focused on others’ agendas and not your own. One of the most valuable things that Gary shared was how he politely says “no” to requests that do not support his priorities.

Saying “no” made easy

His suggestion is to send an email or a text (avoid phone calls or in-person conversations as these take too long with something that is not crucial to you) that goes something like this: “I’d love to, but I have another commitment. I wish you the best, or I wish you success with the project.” It is short, direct, and allows no wiggle room for either party.

And to summarize:

  • Focus on your most important task first thing each day, and don’t do anything else until the task is complete.
  • Don’t commit to anything that doesn’t support your goals and priorities.
  • Find a polite and direct way to say “no.”

In time, this strategy will reap enormous benefits both personally and professionally.

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Kim Martin

Kim Martin


A thought leader in the areas of executive leadership, change management, and women in the C-suite.