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If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life and work, then “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown may help.  I struggle sometimes with all the details of having a practice, piles of todo’s at home, running from one kid event to another, and all while making sure my family knows they are my priority.  It’s easy to lose sight of what is essential when there is so much to do.

I find myself going to books about making life more simple on a regular basis.  This is an older book (2014) and has been on my shelf for closing in on a decade .  I have reached for it every 2 or 3 years when I feel a lack of focus.  I love the premise of “Less but better”.

As a former computer science student, I can’t help but think about the old mainframe machines.  If you were alone in the lab, everything was lightning quick. But, fill the lab up with 30 people working on their assignments that are due later that day and then it’s dragging.  The mainframes would split time among the users. If there are 30 users then you will get a slot of time every 30 slots of time offered.  Not only do you only get a fraction of the computational effort, but also much of the computer’s time goes to swapping between tasks at the expense of productivity.

In this book, McKeown argues that the way to achieve more is to actually do less. By focusing only on what is important, we can live a more fulfilling life and accomplish more in the process.  It would be like having the lab to yourself without the need to spend so much time redirecting your focus.
McKeown emphasizes the importance of saying “no” to non-essential tasks and commitments, and instead, learning to prioritize our time and energy on the things that matter. He provides practical tips and strategies on how to identify what is essential in our lives, how to eliminate distractions, and how to make the most of our time.
One of the most valuable lessons from this book is the distinction between “non-essentialist” and “essentialist” thinking. Non-essentialists try to do everything, resulting in a lack of focus and burnout. Essentialists, on the other hand, focus on what matters most and are able to achieve more by doing less.
“Essentialism” is well-written and an easy read, but can be a little bit redundant – maybe that’s the point. This is a thought-provoking book because it is so much more than the words on the page.  You can’t help but wonder while reading how each idea will apply specifically in your life.

The Verdict

A single Thumbs up!  Essentialism is a good read for anyone who wants to live a more meaningful and productive life.