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BOOK REVIEW: Essentialism
by Greg McKeown
ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER
Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you often busy but not productive?
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.
Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.
Last year I read and reviewed First Things First by Steven R. Covey. Although I felt Covey’s concepts were great, I struggled to get through the book. Essentialism [affiliate link] is similar in theory, but presented in a way that is so much more delightful to read and easy to absorb.
For me, reading Essentialism was life-changing. McKeown’s concept is simple: Less but better.
For those of us who are high achievers, we tend to take on more and more. It’s what makes us stand out.
It’s what results in us getting promoted. But it’s also what leads us to get buried. We take on so much that we can’t get anything done. We’re pulled in a million different directions so any progress we do make seems minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
McKeown explains how this affects us psychologically. He encourages us to identify our own priorities — “our biggest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.” And he helps us think through the obstacles that come up and how to start saying no to the things that don’t help us accomplish our own goals.
“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”
Above all, McKeown helps us understand that the practice of essentialism is a constant effort. It takes discipline every day to set priorities and focus on the things that are most important without getting sidetracked by other people’s agendas.
“The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves.”
I highly recommend this book.