“Done right, an essential intent is one decision that settles one thousand later decisions. . . .
One strategic choice eliminates a universe of other options and maps a course for the next five, ten, or even twenty years of your life. Once the big decision is made, all subsequent decisions come into better focus.”
– Greg McKeown
When I saw the book Essentialism applauded by Michael Hyatt, I decided to read it myself. I’m glad I did.
Some may think it’s just another time-management book, but it’s actually a life-prioritizing book.
Its main goal is to convince you that you can’t do it all, so choose correctly what you will do.
But how do we filter the important from the unimportant when we have so many choices?
Author Greg McKeown says essentialism is similar to cleaning out the closet of our lives. Just as we need to keep the clutter out of our physical closets, so too in our behaviors and habits. Ask yourself questions like, “Do I love this or wear it often or look great in it?” If it no longer fits your life goals, eliminate it.
Choosing is the first and most crucial skill that McKeown says we need to develop. Make decisions by design, not default.
Here are some questions sprinkled throughout the book to ask yourself as you make life choices:
- Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?
- What am I deeply passionately about?
- What am I particularly talented at?
- What meets a significant need in the world?
- What do I want to go big on?
- Do I absolutely love this?
- If I could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?
- Is this essential?
- What’s important now?
He also gives practical suggestions of things you may already know to do, but seldom do. Such as,
- Add 50 percent to your time estimates
“Not only does this relieve the stress we feel about being late (imagine how much less stressful sitting in traffic would feel if we weren’t running late), but if we do find that the task was faster and easier to execute than we expected (though this is a rare experience for most of us), the extra found time feels like a bonus.”
- Remove the obstacle
“To remove the obstacle you need to replace the idea ‘This has to be perfect or else’ with ‘Done is better than perfect.’”
- Celebrate small wins
“Research has shown that of all forms of human motivation the most effective one is progress. Why? Because a small, concrete win creates momentum and affirms our faith in our further success.”
- Do the minimal viable preparation
“Often just ten minutes invested in a project or assignment two weeks before it is due can save you much frantic and stressed-out scrambling at the eleventh hour. Take a goal or deadline you have coming up and ask yourself, ‘What is the minimal amount I could do right now to prepare?’”
Although this book wasn’t written from a spiritual perspective per se, you can easily take it there. Praying and wrestling about your essential purpose for existence is critical. You’ll more likely live out of that center if you’ll make conscious and routine adjustments. Books like this are reminders to clean out your life’s closet.
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Here’s a 10-question quiz you can take to see if you’re an essentialist already.
My thanks to Edelweiss for the review copy of this book
- You get a gold star
- Do you see grace?