Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

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TL;DR

So, you’ve seen a review of Essentialism from Scarberry already, and I think he’s insane. This book is 100% 5 stars worth reading. Essentialism is a way of life that applies to business, your home life, and your general personal life. The general concept is to determine what values are essential to you living your best life, eliminate anything that doesn’t align with those values, and continue to improve from there.

Greg’s organization in this book is fantastic. It’s so easy to follow and think of ways to apply each pillar of essentialism to your own like. I pulled out the key points and laid them out below. I am already working to apply these in my life as well at work and at home. Enjoy the overview. I hope it inspires you to read the whole thing!

PRINCIPLES OF ESSENTIALISM

Core - The core values of Essentialism.

1. Choice - you have the ability to choose in every part of your life. Celebrate this power to choose. Never think you have to do anything, instead choose to do things.

2. Discern - different types of effort give different levels of reward. You should always strive for less work but better results. In every aspect of life, you should determine how to use minimal effort to return maximum results.

3. Trade-off - which problem do you want? You need to decide what's important to you and get a laser focus on these things. The key is to pick the things that will have the biggest impact and become great at them. You also need to learn to say NO to things that don't align with these values.

Explore - How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?

1. Escape - it is important to create time for yourself to think and rebalance. You should take your day and schedule freetime for yourself to think creatively about problems you are facing without any distractions. You should also find to to unwind with reading and other things that disconnect you from the house of the world.

2. Look - the key to this part of exploring is finding the lead. The lead is the summary of all of the information given to you. The importance here is to be able to filter the essential bits of information for the non essentials. In order to do this properly you need to make sure you understand the true problem and piece together all the facts related to it.

3. Play - we need to embrace our inner child. Creativity and imagination are powerful for your professional growth while trying to get through difficult problems, but we tend to do less and less of these inaginitive and creative activities like playing as we get older. We need to continue to play to allow our minds to expand and engage in our imagination.

4. Sleep - protect the asset. Your most important asset is your health. Sleep is the number one thing you can do for yourself to keep your body functioning properly. Getting 8hrs is vital to your health and productivity. A good night's sleep with help you solve problems faster and be more creative.

5. Select - the power of strict criteria. If the answer isn't a definite yes, then it's a no. You must acknowledge the reality of trade-offs. If you only pick activities that are in the 90-100% "I want to do this range" you will only pick things that truly excited you that you will enjoy doing and do well for that reason.

Eliminate - what in my life does not align with my essential values?

1. Clarify - it is important to understand your purpose in order to focus on your essential life vision. This also applies to business in the sense that the company vision needs to be crystal clear. For your life and business visions, you need to find a simple and meaningful mission statement that allows people to easily understand and follow that mission.

2. Dare - the power of no. Saying no to non essential things is all about courage. Saying no may cause guilt for minutes, but a yes to something non-essential can cause guilt for days weeks months or even years. The goal is to say no to any ask that is non-essentials, so you have time to say yes to the essentials. Saying yes will make you popular, but saying no will make people respect you.

3. Un-commit - win big by cutting your losses. The more time or money we have invested in a project or activity, the harder it is to give up. You need to learn to ask yourself, of I was just now considering this, how much would it be worth to me? After that, only continue with things you find valuable today and constantly reevaluate this.

4. Edit - the invisible art. There are a thousand things you could be doing, but only a few are important. You need to use deliberate subtraction to get down to these essentials.

5. Limit - the freedom of setting boundaries. Boundaries are liberating in the sense that they provide guidelines for your life that make it easy to accept or decline based on them. For example, Saturdays could be family days that you can block off of anything non-family relates. You need to determine which boundaries allow for you to live your best life.

Execute - How to make the essential lifestyle effortless.

1. Buffer - the unfair advantage. The essentialist buffer is all about planning for the unexpected. Give yourself more time than you expect to need for any given task. If you are overly optimistic on timing and unprepared for the unexpected, you generally leave yourself forcing execution in a subpar matter. If you give yourself the time and resources you need with room for the unexpected, you will be able to give every single project, task, and event your best effort and get outstanding results.

2. Subtract - bring forth more by removing obstacles. While trying to improve your business or life, you need to find the areas that are holding you back. The idea is to produce more by removing more. There are two ways to remove. The first is to completely remove the obstacles from the situation. The second option is to improve each obstacle starting with the worst obstacle and working through them one at a time.

3. Progress - the power of small wins. Start small and celebrate small victories. Progress is the best form of motivation. Small chunks of progress are generally more effective than large grandiose plans. Rather than starting big, start small and build momentum. Eventually, there will be a significant breakthrough. Find small changes you can make to things you do often, and you will get easy yet meaningful wins that build on your momentum.

4. Flow - the genius of routine. The right routines can help you focus on all the essentials without even thinking about it. These routines allow you to go on autopilot for various aspects of your life and leave extra brain power for when you need it. The key is to make these routines positive for your health and business like going to sleep at the same time every night, working out every morning, making healthy meals, and reading. These healthy habits will allow your brain to go on autopilot for the heathy foundation of your day and leave brain power for the rest of your day.

5. Focus - what's important now? Eliminating distractions is essential to productivity. We need to determine what is important right now and stay in the moment with absolute focus on that task.

6. Be - the essentialist life. The next step is to take all of these guidelines and put them into action. Becoming an esentialist will not happen over night, but if you continue to apply these principles, you will become an essentialist at the core.

Review by Tyler Diderich

I hope this preview of the book inspired you to apply some of these principles to your own life! You can buy the book here on Amazon if you would like to read it for yourself: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Tyler DiderichComment