Essentialism is a radical guide on simplifying life so that anyone can achieve their goals by only focusing on what truly matters. His approach champions self-care, minimalism, fiercely protecting time. Central lessons in McKeown’s teachings are taking the time to know what is most important to focus on, then choosing to focus on those things above all else. It may sound obvious to sleep, know your priorities and stop to smell the roses, but in today’s hyper-fast “want more, do more, be more” culture, it is too easy to get swept away in the rat race of business.
My key Takeaways from Essentialism by Greg McKeown:
Takeaway #1: Less Is More
In today's fast-paced world where multi-tasking is the norm and schedules are filled to the brim in an effort to achieve more, get more, and be more (all in the quest for supposed happiness) we need to remember that having 'everything' will not make us happy. Slow down and allow yourself to focus on what is essential for your happiness and well-being as you work on eliminating the junk that keeps you busy!
Takeaway #2: Do Less But Do It Better
Stop taking tiny steps forward in multiple directions instead, make great leaps forward in the things that matter to you and that you can excel in. Question your motives often by asking yourself 'do I choose to or do I have to?' You want to be eliminating items from the 'I have to' or 'I should' list aka the path of helplessness and doing more of what you choose.
Takeaway #3: Accept Tradeoffs
You can achieve a remarkable level of success by doing only a few vital things very well but you have to be able to accept and make tradeoffs. When you're doing your chosen things well, don't fall into the trap of thinking you can now take on more and still do everything well.
Takeaway #4: Schedule Escapism
Boredom can be good for you! Having time to do absolutely nothing except think allows you the time to get off the rat race and think clearly as you work out the bigger picture of what's important in your life and what's not. To help, keep a journal but instead of writing as much as possible, write as little as possible.
Takeaway #5: Schedule Play Time
Just like having time to think, time to play is essential too. Playtime allows you to develop novel connections between ideas resulting in inspiration, it helps you to de-stress, to analyze and then prioritize tasks.
Takeaway #6: Schedule Zzzz's
Some people think of sleep as a waste of time, a luxury they cannot afford but this way of thinking is counterproductive as sleep increases your ability to think and actually results in increased activity the next day!
Takeaway #7: Get Ruthless
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that all of your tasks, responsibilities, and belongings are essential. Use the 90% rule to help eliminate items/tasks - anything that scores less than an 89 out of 100 has to go). Alternatively, say to yourself that if you don't get a strong yes the answer is a strong no.
Takeaway #8: Learn to Say No
In order to get good at saying no to non-essential items you need to learn how to separate the decision from the relationship. 10 minutes of regret, worrying that you've disappointed someone or that you're missing out ensures you don't spend 60 minutes plus regretting something you've said yes to!
Takeaway #9: Admit Your Errors Fast
Have you carried on doing something that you knew wasn't working just because you didn't want to be seen to give up or give in? Forget about fixing failures and instead, admit your errors fast so that you can self-correct and move on with courage.
Takeaway #10: Clarity
How will you know when you've reached your goal? If you can answer this question you have the clarity to succeed.
Chapter One - The Essentialist
Chapter Two - Choose: The Invincible Power of Choice
Chapter Three - Discern: The Unimportance of Practically Everything
Chapter Four - Trade-Off: Which Problem Do I Want?
Chapter Five - Escape: The Perks of Being Unavailable
Chapter Six - Look: See What Really Matters
Chapter Seven - Play: Embrace the Wisdom of Your Inner Child
Chapter Eight - Sleep: Protect the Asset
Chapter Nine - Select: The Power of Extreme Criteria
Chapter Ten - Clarify: One Decision That Makes a Thousand
Chapter Eleven - Dare: The Power of a Grateful "No"
Chapter Twelve - Uncommit: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses
Chapter Thirteen - Edit: The Invisible Art
Chapter Fourteen - Limit: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries
Chapter Fifteen - Buffer: The Unfair Advantage
Chapter Sixteen - Subtract: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles
Chapter Seventeen - Progress: The Power of Small Wins
Chapter Eighteen - Flow: The Genius Routine
Chapter Nineteen - Focus: What's Important Now?
Chapter Twenty - Be: The Essentialist Life
My Favorite Quotes from Essentialism
"..It's not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential."
"Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend.. 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."
"Done is better than perfect."
"Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do."
"If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no."
"What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?"
"Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will... The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default."
"Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload."
"What do I feel deeply inspired by?"
"What am I particularly talented at?"
"What meets a significant need in the world?"
"Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?
― Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
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Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.