The book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown* emphasises the importance of focusing on our priorities, taking control of our own choices and eliminating non-essential items and activities from our lives. By doing this, we can invest our time and energy in meaningful activities that bring purpose and satisfaction.
There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in. And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the fact is that most are trivial and few are vital. The way of the Essentialist involves learning to tell the difference– learning to filter through all those options and selecting only those that are truly essential.Greg McKeown, Essentialism
Why I wanted to read it
After hearing numerous recommendations, I decided to read this book during a busy time, with a full house renovation, taking care of my children, and managing work. Feeling overwhelmed, I was eager to find ways to simplify and bring more calm into my life. I hoped that the book would provide me with practical tools to make better decisions and help me recognise when I was pursuing things that I didn’t truly want, thereby breaking free from the allure of shiny distractions.
Essentialism Book Summary
“Essentialism” by Greg McKeown is a comprehensive guide that explores the concept of essentialism and provides practical strategies for embracing it in our daily lives. McKeown emphasizes the need to prioritise what truly matters, learn to say “no” to non-essential tasks, and make deliberate choices aligned with our values and priorities. The book covers topics such as discernment, trade-offs, creating space for focus and reflection, the power of observation, the significance of sleep, the benefits of routines and rituals, and maintaining continuous focus on what is truly important. “Essentialism” aims to help readers simplify their lives, make intentional choices, and focus on what truly matters.
The main point for me is to identify and prioritise what matters most to me and create ways to focus on it, without getting distracted by unimportant things.
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”Greg McKeown
I’ve broken this down into the following points, however they all overlap and build on each other.
- Focus on what truly matters, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do everything.
- Say no to non-essential tasks and opportunities to create space for the things that really matter to you
- Prioritise your time and energy on the activities that align with your values and goals, and eliminate or delegate less important tasks.
- Focus on one thing at a time to make greater progress
- Remove unnecessary complexity, both in your physical environment and in your commitments.
- Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally in order to be more effective and focused.
- Make intentional choices about how you spend your time and energy, rather than letting others dictate your priorities.
I found this quote about boundaries particularly impactful. It painted a vivid image in my mind of a sandcastle being gradually eroded by the waves until it eventually crumbles. It really brought home to me the importance of consistency and knowing where I want to build that wall or boundary. It was also reassuring as you can rebuild a wall in between waves, and you can start rebuilding boundaries.
Boundaries are a little like the walls of a sandcastle. The second we let one fall over, the rest of them come crashing down.Greg McKeown
What I’ve changed
I thought there was a way of doing everything, if I plan correctly, so this book has had a big impact on my mindset about the value of trying to fit more in. I’ve realised I can feel better by doing less. It has also highlighted that my approach of spreading my time and effort on lots of things meant while I made progress it wasn’t as good as if I’d focused on fewer things.
I’m being a lot more focused on what I’m doing at work. I already had a quarterly, monthly , weekly planning system involving time blocks. I’m approaching it more seriously by using selective criteria so as I can only do a few things which are the key ones. This is helping me focus on the activities that will have the greatest impact, and I’m reacting less to other people’s agendas.
Saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others.Greg McKeown
At home, I definitely took the approach of trying to fit in all the activities the children wanted to do, so I ended up rushing from location to location to make the plan work. I now understand the benefit to them of making tough decisions. I’m working on systems to make chores. It is still a work in progress, but I’m hopeful it will make family life smoother.
Should you read it
Absolutely, yes! I think everyone will benefit from focusing on what truly matters and embracing the idea of less but better.
It can help you:
- gain more clarity by identifying the essential and non-essential things in your life.
- make better decisions about how you spend your time and energy
- achieve more by doing less of the non-essentials
- take control of your choices, instead of letting other people’s agenda control you
”Everything changes when we give ourselves permission to be more selective in what we choose to do.”Greg McKeown, Essentialism
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism is a practical approach to focusing on what truly matters. It helps us eliminate non-essential things and take control of our time and energy. By doing less but better, we can make meaningful choices and improve all areas of our lives.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is an essential read for anyone seeking to declutter their life, make better decisions, and focus on what truly matters.
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