Have you ever felt the urge to declutter your work life?
Do you often find yourself stretched too thin?
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
Are you frequently busy but not productive? Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Apr 2014
From the cover
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
Sam Elliot1 is a capable executive in Silicon Valley who found himself stretched too thin after his company was acquired by a larger, bureaucratic business.
1 Name has been changed.
He was in earnest about being a good citizen in his new role so he said yes to many requests without really thinking about it. But as a result he would spend the whole day rushing from one meeting and conference call to another trying to please everyone and get it all done. His stress went up as the quality of his work went down. It was like he was majoring in minor activities and as a result, his work became unsatisfying for him and frustrating for the people he was trying so hard to please.
In the midst of his frustration the company came to him and offered him an early retirement package. But he was in his early 50s and had no interest in completely retiring. He thought briefly about starting a consulting company doing what he was already doing. He even thought of selling his services back to his employer as a consultant. But none of these options seemed that appealing. So he went to speak with a mentor who gave him surprising advice: "Stay, but do what you would as a consultant and nothing else. And don't tell anyone." In other words, his mentor was advising him to do only those things that he deemed essential—and ignore everything else that was asked of him.
The executive followed the advice! He made a daily commitment towards cutting out the red tape. He began saying no.
He was tentative at first. He would evaluate requests based on the timid criteria, "Can I actually fulfill this request, given the time and resources I have?" If the answer was no then he would refuse the request. He was pleasantly surprised to find that while people would at first look a little disappointed, they seemed to respect his honesty.
Encouraged by his small wins he pushed back a bit more. Now when a request would come in he would pause and evaluate the request against a tougher criteria: "Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?"
If he couldn't answer a definitive yes, then he would refuse the request. And once again to his delight, while his colleagues might initially seem disappointed, they soon began respecting him more for his refusal, not less.
Emboldened, he began to apply this selective criteria to everything, not just direct requests. In his past life he would always volunteer for presentations or assignments that came up last minute; now he found a way to not sign up for them. He used to be one of the first to jump in on an e‑mail trail, but now he just stepped back and let others jump in. He stopped attending conference calls that he only had a couple of minutes of interest in. He stopped sitting in on the weekly update call because he didn't need the information. He stopped attending meetings on his calendar if he didn't have a direct contribution to make. He explained to me, "Just because I was invited didn't seem a good enough reason to attend."
It felt self-indulgent at first. But by being selective he bought himself space, and in that space he found creative freedom. He could concentrate his efforts one project at a time. He could plan thoroughly. He could anticipate roadblocks and start to remove obstacles. Instead of spinning his wheels trying to get everything done, he could get the right things done. His newfound commitment to doing only the things that were truly important—and eliminating everything else—restored the...
"Do you feel it, too? That relentless pressure to sample all the good things in life? To do all the 'right' things? The reality is, you don't make progress that way. Instead, you're in danger of spreading your efforts so thin that you make no impact at all. Greg McKeown believes the answer lies in paring life down to its essentials. He can't tell you what's essential to every life, but he can help you find the meaning in yours." - Daniel H. Pink, author of TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE
"Essentialism holds the keys to solving one of the great puzzles of life: how can we do less but accomplish more? A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked--in other words, everyone. It has already changed the way that I think about my own priorities, and if more leaders embraced this philosophy, our jobs and our lives would be less stressful and more productive. So drop what you're doing and read it.." - Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
"As a self-proclaimed "maximalist" who always wants to do it all, this book challenged me and improved my life. If you want to work better, not just less, you should read it too." -
- Chris Guillebeau, NYT bestselling author of The $100 Startup
"Great design takes us beyond the complex, the unnecessary and confusing, to the simple, clear and meaningful. This is as true for the design of a life as it is for the design of a product. With Essentialism, Greg McKeown gives us the invaluable guidebook for just such a project." -
-Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
"In Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes a compelling case for achieving more by doing less. He reminds us that clarity of focus and the ability to say 'no' are both critical and undervalued in business today." -
-Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn
"While everyone else is still leafing through Lean In or Outliers, get a competitive jump on the new year with....Essentialism... learn how to identify the right things, focus on getting them done, and forget the rest. In other words, 'do less, but better.'" - -Forbes
"Essentialism is a powerful antidote to the current craziness that plagues our organizations and our lives. Read Greg McKeown's words slowly, stop and think about how to apply them to your life -- you will do less, do it better, and begin to feel the insanity start to slip away." -
- Robert I. Sutton, Professor at Stanford University and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss
"Essentialism is a rare gem that will change lives. Greg offers deep insights, rich context and actionable steps to living life at its fullest. I've started on the path to an Essentialist way of life, and the impact on my productivity and well-being is profound." -
-Bill Rielly, Senior Vice President, Intel Security
"In this likeable and astute treatise on the art of doing less in order to do better...McKeown makes the content fresh and the solutions easy to implement. Following his lucid and smart directions will help readers fine "the way of the essentialist" - -Success Magazine
"Essentialism will give you richer, sweeter results and put you in real control, giving greater precision to the pursuit of what truly matters." - -Forbes.com