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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,785 Ratings  ·  1,138 Reviews
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.
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2014)
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Jason VanOrden I recommend this book if you have a hard time saying no to thing, find that you chronicall overfill your plate, feel like there is never enough time…moreI recommend this book if you have a hard time saying no to thing, find that you chronicall overfill your plate, feel like there is never enough time to get everything done and would like to take on a more mindful approach to your work. I found it helpful. I plan on reading 'The Power of No' by James and Claudia Altucher next.

My review will give you more insight into what I got out of 'Essentialism.'

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 06, 2014 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
All 272 pages of this book could have been condensed into a three-page blog post, perhaps without the pages filled with cutesy large text. My ultimate takeaway is that I find Greg McKeown incredibly annoying. However, there are also some other, intuitive ideas that can be helpful, like:

· You cannot have it all. Decide what your agenda or goal is, and pursue only opportunities that lead you to that goal. If you don't have your own agenda, someone else will make it for you. Don't commit casually t
Dec 09, 2013 Hanne rated it liked it
It must be tough to write a book about Essentialism because people will be watching like a hawk to see whether you stick to your own advice – and sadly I’m not sure that he did.

But first things first, I didn’t have a name for it but ‘Essentialism’ is what I have been doing for a while now – at work at least. I have yet to tell any of my family or friends that I wasn’t positively answering their invitation because it wasn’t essential to me and my goals for the near future.
But at work, I am a stro
John Lee
Aug 22, 2014 John Lee rated it it was amazing
According to McKeown, essentialism is living one's life in such a way that all of one's energies are concentrated on accomplishing the vital few things that really matter. In order to do this, one must know what the essential things are, cut out the things that are not essential, and put oneself in a position where doing the essential things becomes effortless.

It's a great book for everyone, and provides insights on how to apply this philosophy not only to one's personal life but to the workplac
Ryan Dejonghe
Apr 15, 2014 Ryan Dejonghe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
ESSENTIALISM by Greg McKeown is a book that should be read annually. In it we are asked, “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance?” Not that it is a new concept, but it is a book that assembles all the great philosophies and thinkers into a cohesive and inspiring format. McKeown starts from Socrates (“Beware of the barrenness of a busy life”) and works his way into modern thinkers such as Drucker, Gladwell, and Csikszentmihalyi.

McKeown makes the concession that e
Prakash Loungani
May 24, 2014 Prakash Loungani rated it it was ok
Could have been a 100 pages shorter without losing anything essential
Jan 13, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
This is exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right moment. As I have felt my life spiralling out of control, this is the book I picked up. The author gleans from the best and most successful people and their philosophy and supports his stance that, with a proper personal mission statement, SMART goals, and a willingness to simplify and change our perspective, we can prioritize and live, with, play a more meaningful life. His philosophy is one that supports greater joy with family, less c ...more
Margaret Mechinus
May 05, 2014 Margaret Mechinus rated it it was ok
I liked the table of contents. It laid out his essential points in a concise list. The chapters themselves were overworked and repetitive. Nothing new here, including his anecdotes and examples.
Jan 15, 2015 Sheri rated it it was ok
Such a frustrating book. McKeown addresses an important topic that I certainly need to work on, and that's what persuaded me to read this book (based on some praising reviews) and kept me reading it through my annoyance with his tone and attitude. I'm not sure I learned anything new but I definitely was pushed to think about some things that I generally set to the side about how I choose to spend my time and the projects I take on. The book was valuable enough that I'm glad I read it. But I was ...more
Jan 15, 2016 Scott rated it it was amazing
I met Greg McKeown just after I finished his book, Essentialism. I found out that he was a bishop in my stake (Mormon-speak for being a church congregation leader in my general area of Palo Alto, CA). He was approachable and kind. After introducing myself and complimenting him on his book, he asked me a few questions about myself. Namely, what was I doing in my life and what was my end goal in my professional career. I was taken aback, because not many people jump straight to such a core questio ...more
Jun 26, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
This is a case of me finding exactly the book I needed at exactly the right time. (So the rating reflects that--it may not be helpful in the same degree to others.) McKeown offers a simple but profound idea: that we accomplish more when we are choosier about where we direct our efforts. I've been in the process of pulling back from things that once seemed important but have left me feeling frustrated and empty. To read a book that articulates many of the deep urges I've been struggling with, mak ...more
Meghan Krogh
Dec 08, 2014 Meghan Krogh rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Meghan by: Bailey
Shelves: xy, business
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from my friend Bailey at Random House; there was no expectation of a review, favorable or otherwise.

In a nutshell, Mckeown's book encapsulates an idea I've been circling around in my personal life for years, but provides concrete and approachable methods for reducing the activity, psychological, and physical clutter in your life so you can focus on what is truly essential. It's an empowering approach to work (make choices in order to focus ex
Рецензия и визуальный конспект в моем блоге:

Книга не предлагает ничего революционного или сверх-оригинального, но она "о главном" ;))
Roxanne Russell
Mar 10, 2015 Roxanne Russell rated it really liked it
Shelves: biz
This is the kind of book you can imagine yourself buying in bulk and passing out to everyone you know. I've already recommended it to more people than I can remember.

After reading just the first few pages, I made a very big decision to quit a part-time job I've had for 11 years. This book's simple offering gave me that kind of clarity. It also validated some of my already current good habits of boundary laying.

Direct quote takeaways:

"The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s
Apr 06, 2014 Morgane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy
I'm already pretty good at "essentialism": in fact, when I was reading his metaphor about cleaning out your closet regularly and donating away old clothes, I was on the bus, on my way to Goodwill to donate old clothes. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is.

But, even though I know sleep is good for me, and that I need a routine, and how to say "no" to people, this is still a good reminder of all that. It's easy to forget that we need time for ourselves and that ultimately, if we don't decide
May 21, 2014 Anita rated it liked it
It was okay. It totally had me at first by taking me back to my j-school days, talking about "finding the lead" (lede). The entire message of the book is essentially "Stop trying to do everything. You're going to have to evaluate and decide what is important to you and choose to do it. Unfortunately you are going to disappoint a few people in order to stick to your priorities. It is unavoidable; get comfortable with that."

All of which I agree with. However, toward the end it got a little too "o
May 05, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! As someone who's trying to implement simplicity in my life, I found this book to be informative, intuitive, and interesting. Greg McKeown shares the idea of "less, but better" from the famous designer Dieter Rams. We don't have to run ourselves ragged trying to do everything. We have the power to pursue those things that we deem better. By limiting our options, we can find success. Do less and receive better outcomes. Do less and be happier. Do less and be more driven. Definit ...more
Jacob Mclaws
Mar 19, 2015 Jacob Mclaws rated it really liked it
Essentialism starts with giving yourself permission (or forcing yourself) to stop trying to do it all. Only then can you make your highest contribution to the things that really matter.

I think a lot of us intuitively get the principle of focus makes for better results; the hard work, in my mind, is deciding what to focus on and being disciplined enough to say no to other things.

"Dieter Rams was the lead designer at Braun for many years. He is driven by the idea that almost everything is noise."
This book contains great advice for affluent people who don't fear losing their jobs when they choose really important things like planning their weddings (real example from the book) over doing tasks that are part of the job that they've been hired to do.

One bit of advice is - go to the South of France for a year when your work adversely affects your health. Why didn't I think of that when I had surgery? Maybe you don't need to pay for electricity and housing if you live on the beach.

Where is t
May 05, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
This felt pretty intuitive to me but contained a lot of sound advice. The essential intent concept gave me some good ideas for team planning in the year to come, and the later chapters on how to put essentialist principles into practice were surprisingly concrete and helpful (in particular the parts about routine and minimal viable preparation). This book is also great fodder for introverts who are inundated with pressure to socialize in unappealing ways; just say NO.
Sep 07, 2015 Zeenat rated it it was ok
Too much verbiage. For a book that teaches essentialism, there was a lot that could have been edited. At least half the book.
Apr 28, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!!!

Here are my favorite takeaways:

"The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials." -Lin Yutang

“When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people—our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families—will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.”

“Studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and
Jul 17, 2014 Joann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the best book I've read so far this year. I don't remember how I came across it, but I am grateful I did! The message was just what I needed and reading it in the summer months, with ample time for reflection, has made a big difference in my life (and, hopefully, will have huge impact on my family in the near future).

Though clearly written with a "working professional" emphasis, I was able to apply the concepts to my life as a wife and mother in a homeschooling family with many children
Dru Pagliassotti
May 11, 2014 Dru Pagliassotti rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
Over the last twenty-odd years I've moved from frugality to voluntary simplicity to minimalism, and now I have a name for my post-minimalism stage in which I've found myself: essentialism. The idea of paring down to the highest quality essentials, to only those things that absolutely do what you need them to do -- whether we're talking about physical possessions or time commitments -- is exactly what I've been striving toward over the last two years, with mixed success. As a writer and a univers ...more
John Doyle
Apr 26, 2014 John Doyle rated it it was ok
The fundamental point of the book is captured well by the title and from there the content is a blend of the intuitive and anecdotal. I appreciated the sections on the power of sleep and routine as pillars of creativity but otherwise was distracted by the repetition of simple themes (e.g. the essentialist knows that most things don't matter). I was also distracted by quotes from unproven leaders (e.g. Aaron Levie at Box?!) that were featured as examples to validate the application of essentialis ...more
Jul 03, 2014 Andy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, non-fiction, 2014
I'm always eager to read most anything that I think will make me more effective and efficient in work and life, so I was glad my wife suggested this book to me. As other reviewers have mentioned, much material is repeated, but when you're learning new ideas and concepts, repetition is welcome. Highly recommended.
Teo 2050
3h @2x.

(view spoiler)
Morgan Blackledge
Apr 18, 2015 Morgan Blackledge rated it it was amazing
Essentialism is author Greg McKeown's manifesto for the disciplined pursuit of less (but better). The nutshell catch fraise of the book is "if it's not a hell yes, it's a no. The prime directive is to (a) identify what really matters (b) ditch all the CBNQ (close but not quite) stuff (c) bite down and tear your mission apart like you're a cross between Gandhi and a pitbull with Asperger's syndrome i.e. a big hearted, very strong, very aggressively focused person.

Pushing 100 balls forward 1 cm is
Sue Smith
Feb 10, 2015 Sue Smith rated it liked it
You know, this wasn't a bad book. It had some excellent ideas and some good suggestions as to how to achieve them. It's a great book for those people that are inundated with a cyber world of information and communication. (I thankfully am not one of those poor suckers). It was nice to see that I follow a lot of his ideas but if you are looking to find ways to deal with physical clutter, look at other books to try to deal with that issue. Or visit a psychiatrist to find out why you clutter in the ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
A well written reminder of the power of focus. I appreciated the variety of sources and the examples. A few of the examples were obvious, including that old standby “Flow”, while some were newly used in my experience, such as the theory of constraints from “The Goal”. While nothing really struck me as brand new, this is one of the minority of self-help books that I’ve read that really focused on, well, focus, with suggestions and stories of how to deal with that stuff that shouldn’t matter. The ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Clayton rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It serves as an antidote to the nagging feeling that we need to be doing more than we can handle. It turns out we don't need to be doing almost all of it. Essentialism is a handbook for creating true happiness.
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Greg McKeown is a business writer, consultant, and researcher specializing in leadership, strategy design, collective intelligence and human systems. He has authored or co-authored books, including the Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Harper Business, June 2010), and journal articles.

Originally from England, he is now an American citizen, liv
More about Greg McKeown...

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“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” 39 likes
“Essentialism is 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.” 27 likes
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