Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg Mckeown
Essentialism can help you discover why less is sometimes actually more. Just because technology has made it possible for us to google the entire globe’s information in an instant, doesn’t mean we should force ourselves to do it. More and more recently, it seems like us humans are trying to keep up with technology by trying to do more, have more, produce more, and learn more… But the problem with this “more more” mentality is, that it’s in direct conflict with the unfortunate fact that we can’t do it all!
We can’t be the expert in every field, we can’t have every toy, nor can we have every possible experience. Not only that, but having and doing everything won’t necessarily make us happier. In fact, we’ll find our closets cluttered with junk we never use and our schedules filled with tasks we can’t complete, at least not well.
Instead, we should be focusing on what we should do, thinking instead about what is essential to our happiness and well-being. In these notes, you’ll learn all about how to identify the essential things in your life and what you can do to cut out everything else, thus giving you the mental and emotional fortitude to perform those most vital tasks to the highest standards possible.
Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.
THE BIG IDEAS
1. To avoid drowning in unnecessary work, you need to adopt the principle of essentialism.
To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make.
Our lives are so jam-packed with tasks and responsibilities that we struggle to identify which of them are the most important.
Even if we make a concerted effort to go through all our tasks and pick out the ones we should prioritize, we still end up with too much on our hands.
This overload of stuff massively hinders our productivity. Luckily, however, we can get our priorities straight by adopting essentialism.
Essentialism focuses on four main points:
- Do less, but do it better. The cornerstone of essentialism is the never-ending task of identifying the less important things in your life to cut out, and doing what’s left over to a higher standard.
- Reject the notion that we should accomplish everything, and choose instead specific directions in which you can excel. Essentialism isn’t about making tiny progress in many directions. Instead, choose a direction and make great strides in the things that matter most to you.
- Constantly question yourself and update your plans accordingly. The process of deciding what’s worth doing and what should be let go is ongoing. The essentialist is always deciding whether what she is doing is actually worth her time or if she should invest her time and energy in a more productive area.
- And lastly, the essentialist takes deliberate action to ensure lasting change.
While all that might seem easy, most of us are actually far from the mark. In the next few big ideas, you’ll discover how far away most of us are from the essentialist approach.
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