The Four Thieves.

Though the title reads catchy, it is not from me. It is from Chapter 17 of ‘The One Thing,’ a book that belongs to those rare breeds of ‘eye-opener’ themed literary pieces.

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – is a non-fiction self-help book by authors and real estate entrepreneurs Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. The book bravely and precisely discusses the value of simplifying one’s workload by focusing on the most critical task in any given project.

In chapter 17, the authors made some brave and genius efforts to identify and confront the productivity ‘drainers,’ which otherwise go unnoticed. Productivity can be defined in different formats depending upon the nature of the audience and the subjects in hand; however, I will follow the common theme and the one-size-fit-for-all-kinds-of-scenarios design of productivity definition, which is the number of inputs needed to produce a particular output. If you are more productive, you make more; if you are less productive, you make less – with the same limited inputs. And productivity gainers make you lose your efficiency to produce more outputs with given limited inputs.

So, if you are a student, more productivity means you can study more within your limited time resources. You make more sales with your limited resources if you are a productive salesperson. The same goes for engineers, doctors, lawyers, architects, firefighters, bankers, carpenters, gardeners, teachers, scientists, and all other professionals and actors of various disciplines. Productivity drainers kill your capability to turn more from less.

Chapter 17 discusses four such ‘drainers’ also called ‘The Four Thieves,’ as listed below:


Most of us find it difficult to say no to even things we do not want to be part of. We know it is not in our interest or business, yet we say yes and suffer the consequences. When we say yes to many things that rarely contribute to our objectives, we miss the significant tasks we could have done with more focus and effort, contributing to our goals. If you are allergic to saying ‘no,’ you end up in places and with people, you never wanted to be part of.


Flowing with a flow is easy. If you are intentional about bringing a difference in your life and have already figured out your ‘one thing’ in your life, rather than flowing with the crowd and routine, make some meaningful efforts to invest your resources in that stuff. When you allocate your resources to one area (since resources are always limited), your other activities will get affected, and chaos will result. Grow some thick skin to confront such chaos-phobia.

Poor Health Habits

Health is a vital component of our existence. Healthy habits will blow you with positive energy and motivation. If you want to be productive, the last thing you want is negative energy and a lack of motivation. Success is a habit, and habits are built on effort and patience – know this.

‘Anti-Goal’ Surroundings

Yes, surroundings play a significant role in molding and building our profiles. Surroundings can inspire you and also it can kill your spark. There is even a saying: you are the average of five people you regularly interact with. When you have a goal, how do you try to equip yourself to pursue that? Similarly, it would be best if you were watchful of the people you are part of. Your surrounding can make or break you.

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