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ESSENTIALISM Greg McKeown Summary

Last night when you went to bed, did you feel fulfilled? Or did you more likely feel overwhelmed and exhausted from a chaotic day of doing all kinds of stuff that you didn't really much want to do anyway? The truth is, most of us have simply lost control of our days. There are so many demands on us, small and unimportant things that are mostly dictated by others, fill up our life little by little until we have no time left to do the things that we really want to do, the things that we consider important. Our lives are not ours anymore. We've given control to our boss, the Internet, the e-mail box. But did you know that there is another way to live life? This book essentialism is all about the lifestyle that we are 100 percent, totally, and completely in control of our lives. You control how you spend your day, nobody else. You can exercise, eat healthily or not. You can read books or not. You are in the driver's seat. Now, whether you exercise this control or not, you can't escape the responsibility. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. Being unhealthy is every bit as much of a choice as being healthy. The good news is that you can change almost everything in your life if you become aware of your choices and if your desire to change is strong enough.

Being an essentialist is all about accomplishing more by doing less. A non-essentialist does so many things and is pushed in so many different directions. But an essentialist uses the same amount of energy and by purposefully directing it, he can achieve more, basically by doing less. Becoming an essentialist involves three key parts. The first step is to explore. This is where you find out the most important things that you want to commit to doing. The second is to eliminate all the unimportant things that tend to fill up the hours of our day. And the third is to execute it today, not tomorrow, and make sure that today you do the things that are really important to you. Let’s look at each step and I’ll explain what I learned.

The first step is to identify the vital few.

In the time we live, we have access to all human knowledge in our pockets. The problem is not that we don't have enough opportunity to go around. The problem is that there are so many opportunities and we have no idea what to do. What I learned from the book is that we should exercise our choice properly. What we choose to do is going to make all the difference, define the most important things in your life, and refuse to sacrifice the important to the unimportant. Remember, the main thing here is to keep the main thing, the main thing. We simply got to get our priorities straight. We've got to make room in our lives for what really matters.

The second step is to eliminate the non-essential stuff.

Being busy and being effective are two different things. Being effective and doing less is the key to accomplish more. What you don't do is every bit as important as what you do. Warren Buffett says that the difference between successful people and highly successful people is that highly successful people say no to almost everything. Only by saying no to almost everything, are we able to say yes to the right things. This is so hard to do because most of us are addicted to saying yes. I personally grew up poor and it is super hard for me to pass up on any good opportunity. I've got to fight the urge to say yes all the time. But I have learned that saying no to almost everything is actually the key to my success. When I'm stressed, it's usually because I said yes to something I should have said no, and it clogged my life. To accomplish more, we've got to free ourselves from the meaningless busywork and mindless distractions that get us nowhere so we can focus our time and energy on what is really important.

The third step is to execute the plan.

Every single day of your life is a gift and you can use it any way you choose. You can waste it or you can use it for good. No matter what you do today, you've got to make sure that your list of vital few will get done. You're going to keep the main thing, the main thing today. Also, what you don't do today is as much as important as you do, refuse to do the non-essential things, and commit to the vital few things that you identified. You're going to do a lot of things today, but no matter what, you're going to attend to the most important things.

If you are like most of us, you are very, very busy just running around doing mindless, busy work that gets us nowhere. Like hours browsing the Internet, hours watching TV. Being busy and being effective has nothing to do with each other. The very danger is that all that meaningless, busy work and low-value activities can add up to a very, very busy life of mediocrity and disappointment. That's the stuff that keeps people broke and stuck. It keeps people working really, really hard, but they don't get anywhere. This book personally has completely transformed my lifestyle and I hope it can do the same to yours.

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