“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” – Doug Firebaugh

Lessons learnt: Clarity and focus allow us to do more with less. Invest your time. Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

Essentialism is the disciplined pursuit for the vital activities that make our life worth it. This is my definition and it differs just a bit from that of Greg McKeown. Stating that essentialism is the pursuit of less is a bit too harsh and misses some of the crucial nuances. In the end, your time on earth will be the same, essentialist or not, so focusing on the right things is one of the most important things we can do. In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown gives his perspective on how to do this.

The book is divided into four parts: 1) essence, 2) explore, 3) eliminate, and 4) execute. The first explains the mindset of an essentialist. One of the main ideas is that almost everything is noise. One way for you to assess this is to ask yourself the following question: Will this matter in 10 years? To many activities you can say no, and subsequently consider cutting them from your life. In the second and third part, the book explores how to find the right activities (e.g. by being really selective) and how to cut out the non-essential (e.g. by editing your own life).

What might be the most interesting part are the chapters on execution (especially for those who are already doing the right activities). Here McKeown explains 6 techniques on how to make doing the vital few things almost effortless. Here are 3 of them:

  1. Subtract – cut or overcome obstacles that prevent progress
  2. Progress – start small and celebrate small wins
  3. Flow – use routines to make the essential the default position (see also The Power of Habit)

“No is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott

In the end, Essentialism is a book about managing your life, your time and your progress. It is strong on concept and in structure. It lacks a bit in substance (there is a lot of BIG text). And maybe some ideas might have been explained in a smaller format (i.e. blog). Nonetheless it a great start in your journey into essentialism.

More on Essentialism – Official page of Greg McKeown – Goodreads reviews of Essentialism – Article by Greg McKeown about Essentialism