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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  69,072 ratings  ·  6,130 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 EssentialistThe 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 December 31st 2011)
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Lino Matteo 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 additio…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)
Dominic Mcconnell It's not entirely work related- It's about a way of life, not about setting work priorities. I liked the book, but it felt too much time was spent on …moreIt's not entirely work related- It's about a way of life, not about setting work priorities. I liked the book, but it felt too much time was spent on explaining WHY to be an "essentialist" and not enough time on HOW; needs to be fleshed out further. (less)

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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
Prakash Loungani
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Could have been a 100 pages shorter without losing anything essential
Nov 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
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
Sep 07, 2014 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
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 he
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
Margaret Mechinus
May 01, 2014 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.
Jason Pettus
Jan 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 15, 2014 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
Jan 11, 2014 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
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
Roxanne Russell
Mar 10, 2015 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
Cindy Rollins
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, 2019, 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.

Jun 26, 2014 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
Nada Elshabrawy
Just what i needed to read at the moment!
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life
- Mary Oliver (quoted in the book)

From looking at my notes – the result of my reading – this book says a lot more than you'd think, and that it's a lot more than ”just do and have what is essential – less is more, less means more, less but better”.

It is a discipline method for decision-making, getting to more done by fixing on the essential instead of going in multiple directions and as a result advancing too little in most
Daniel Clausen
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Morgan Blackledge
Mar 05, 2015 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
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 "

"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
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, nonfiction
This is a perfect book for anyone who struggles to keep up with day-to-day demands on their time. For those people who feel like they are sprinting to keep up. 'Essentialism' focuses on the idea of less but better; of identifying those essential elements of your life and saying 'no' to anything that would distract you from those elements. It will help you identify what to prioritize, to recognize what is important right now, and how you can implement essentialism in your personal as well as your ...more
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
Jason VanOrden
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Michael Britt
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"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,
Dru Pagliassotti
May 11, 2014 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
May 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Finally! A book that explains to men of privilege how to do even less of the stuff that they don't feel like doing.
Who will clean the toilets and wash the dishes while I am saying yes to only Essential tasks? Will Greg McKeown pick up the slack (fingers crossed)?
I am torn because I feel like there was something of value in this book. Unfortunately, much like The Four Agreements, the tiny sparks of wisdom were conflated with the author's delusions of himself as modern day shaman-prophet. This is
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sure. This is all sound advice and I like to be reminded of it every 6 months or so. It's basically Stephen Covey 2.0 or 3.0. Just say no to everything that is not essential. After reading it, I did cancel a bunch of superfluous commitments. ...more
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. ...more
Romans Karpelcevs
This is a rather bad book with great ideas and some good advice.
I’ll go from good to bad.

McKeown’s ideas of Essentialism are based on absolutely stunning approaches to life and work, which are now reused and retold in so many books, methodologies and techniques. And this is great! Another book on the same basic principles means more people will lear about them and use them. Foremost I’m talking, of course, about the main idea of “less is better” and countless applications of this. You shouldn’t
Tima ( in line with Tima )
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
one of the most inspiring books , Everyone should read
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Goodreads Librari...: Add page number 2 6 Dec 14, 2020 06:09PM  
In Person Meeting - Oct. 30 @ 8:30am 1 16 Oct 25, 2018 07:01PM  
ACADAOS Book Club: Question #9 (Chapters 10-14) 3 6 Oct 25, 2018 01:23PM  
ACADAOS Book Club: Question #15 (Ch. 15-20) 1 3 Oct 24, 2018 02:06PM  
ACADAOS Book Club: Question #14 (Ch. 15-20) 1 2 Oct 24, 2018 02:05PM  
ACADAOS Book Club: Question #12 (Chapters 15-20) 3 3 Oct 15, 2018 12:20PM  

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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.” 136 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.” 99 likes
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