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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  38,247 ratings  ·  3,840 reviews
Have you ever found yourself struggling with information overload?

Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised?

Do you ever feel busy but not productive?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is to become an Essentialist.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown, CEO of a Leadership and Strategy agency in Silicon Valley who has run courses at Apple, Google and Faceboo
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 17th 2014 by Virgin Books (first published December 31st 2011)
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Lino's Version If you find yourself with a lack of time for things like sleep, food, family and reading this book...this book is a game changer. An excellent…moreIf you find yourself with a lack of time for things like sleep, food, family and reading this book...this book is a game changer. An excellent addition to my #KISS library(less)
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4.03  · 
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 ·  38,247 ratings  ·  3,840 reviews


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Emily
Apr 22, 2014 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
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Prakash Loungani
Could have been a 100 pages shorter without losing anything essential
Hanne
Nov 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, non-fiction
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
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Sheri
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Christy
This book could be summed up with these two quotes:
“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.”

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”

I enjoyed the book and felt that it was helpful, b
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Yong Hoon
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
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
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Julie
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
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Margaret Mechinus
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.
Nancy
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Scott
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Zeenat Mahal
Too much verbiage. For a book that teaches essentialism, there was a lot that could have been edited. At least half the book.
Roxanne Russell
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jennifer
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cindy Rollins
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, business, audiobooks
I enjoyed reading this book very much. I am at heart an essentialist so he was preaching to the choir, but he was doing it with a British accent on audio and it is hard for me to hate books with lovely narrations.

Since I am in the middle of big business changes and decisions, the timing on hearing these reminders was perfect for me.

Jason Pettus
This is perhaps the worst example I've ever seen of a manuscript that only contains a magazine article's worth of information, but that has been stretched out to the length of an entire book. In fact, it's unfair to call it even a magazine article's worth of information, but more like a listicle from a clickbait website, with basically the entire book devoted to the single sentence, "Figure out just the one or two things you'd most like to do in your life, then stop doing everything else." I mea ...more
Daniel Clausen
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2019
I was already a buddying essentialist before I ever picked up this book -- actually, the term I prefer is minimalist, though I suppose essentialist has a more positive meaning. The book did not need to convince me to be an essentialist, nor to instruct me to clean out my closet. What the book did need to do was justify its 220 odd page count. What it needed to do was tell me how an essentialist should deal with non-essentialists. The book does do quite a bit of that. If you are a minimalist like ...more
Andy
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I do see value in the message for many very stressed out people, and some bits resonated with me, but overall I have to agree with the negative reviewers on Goodreads that this guy is annoying with his self-defeating neologisms (particularly "nonessentialist") and that there is not much of anything new here in terms of substance. I think that the authors he cites have written better books on the topic, e.g.:
Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
Among more current books, I would recommend:
Rest Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The potential value-added from this
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Morgan Blackledge
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
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Michael Britt
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We have good reasons to fear saying no. We worry we’ll miss out on a great opportunity. We’re scared of rocking the boat, stirring things up, burning bridges. We can’t bear the thought of disappointing someone we respect and like. None of this makes us a bad person. It’s a natural part of being human. Yet as hard as it can be to say no to someone, failing to do so can cause us to miss out on something far more important.”

Out of all these latest nonfiction books I've been reading/listening to,
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Undrakh Ganzorig
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sgi-book-club
Invaluable lessons learnt, plans made, what remains is to execute them. "The life of an Essentialist is a life without regret "

Highlights:
"The life of an Essentialist is a life of meaning. It is life that really matters."

"The problem with being sleep-deprived is that it compromises our ability to tell the difference, and thus our precious ability to prioritize."

"When there is a serious lack of clarity about what the team stands for and what their goals and roles are, people experience confusion
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Morgane
Much longer than it needed to be (ironically), but it was worth re-reading if only to remind myself to think deeply about what is actually important to me, and what isn't.
Jason VanOrden
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is facing overwhelm. Anyone that needs to learn to say no more often.
Shelves: peak-performance
Do you have a chronic (bad) habit of overfilling your plate, like me? I wanted to learn to say 'no' more often in order to enjoy more happiness and less anxiety. The principles in this book will help.

Some of my favorite bites of wisdom from inside include:

* Have extreme criteria for what you will say yes to

* Only say yes to those things that score a 9 or 10 out of 10

* Make more choices. Eliminate "have to" or "should"

* Use the delayed yes. "Let me get back to you." Allow yourself space to say a
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Dru Pagliassotti
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Matthew
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
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Jacob Mclaws
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
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Scott
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Whenever you rate a book best described as a self-help or behavior booster it seems that the you either give it a five-star rating and refer to it as life changing, or you rate it as a one or two-stars and describe it as too wordy, overdone, and unrealistic. I believe that this genre is best thought of as “You’ll get out of it what you put into it.” Please don’t take that as surrendering my review, but understand everyone tends to have their passionate beliefs about the level or success these ty ...more
Leah Nadeau
I was able to really speed read through this book. It makes some interesting meaningful tips but the vast majority is just talk talk talk repeat repeat repeat lol Could have been easily condensed.

My Notes:
- "If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will."
- “decision fatigue”: the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates.
- In The Tao of Warren Buffett, Mary Buffett and David Clark explain: “Warren decided early in his career it would be impossi
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Melissa
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pooja
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing."

I have really enjoyed this book. With motivational and self help books, I like them lengthy, explaining and taking time to imbibe a thought process in the reader's mind so that they remember the stories better.

Of course, it is essential to wrap up your learnings in as few sentences as possible. But if I had to know only the essential things, I would rather read the index and move on because I already know what 'focus', 'choose', 'escape'
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rahul
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This motto that I read in a Derek Sivers book/blog, is the essence of what I think the 260 pages of this book are about.

No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”

Use this rule if you’re often over-committed or too scattered.

If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”.

When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw your
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ACADAOS Book Club: Question #6 (Chapters 5-9) 4 9 Oct 15, 2018 07:28AM  
ACADAOS Book Club: Question #5 (Chapters 5-9) 6 10 Oct 15, 2018 07:14AM  

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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
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“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” 99 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.” 70 likes
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