Book: Essentialism

Greg McKeown

The gist of it

I invested in the hardcopy of this book some years ago. It is one of the few books in our library that has highlights both from myself and from my wife. Back then, I was drawn to this book because of the subtitle “The disciplined pursuit of less.” – Oh, yeah. I like the sound of that.

I review this book here because it is still one of the books I pick up once a year to page through to re-read my (our) highlights.

The premise

This book is not about getting into hardcore minimalism, simplification or the tiny house bandwagon.

Instead, it is a clear exposition of useful and simple (but not easy) high-level principles to live with focus and clarity. About the power of saying “no”. I personally felt re-assured to read that I was not alone; that I was not lazy or flawed when I was driven to seek space, clarity of intent or investing serious alone time to discern what is vital versus what is trivial.

Some Notable Highlights

A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “Which problem do I want?”

“Of the variety of explanations for why we underestimate the amount of time something will take, I believe social pressure is the most interesting. One study found that if people estimated anonymously how long it would take to complete a task they were no longer guilty of the planning fallacy. This implies that often we actually know we can’t do things in a given timeframe, but we do not want to admit it to someone.