Notes on Essentialism

I recently read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  It had a lot of valuable guidelines for how to structure your life with boundaries in such a way that they help you to be able to spend your resources on what is truly valuable rather than wasting time, energy and effort in chasing after a thousand lesser goods that you don't care about so much.

Very much in the spirit of the book, I condensed it down onto an index card.  Here are my notes, for your reading pleasure (but mostly so I can find them again if I want them.)

Essentialism's motto: "Less but better" or "Fewer things done better."

Live by design, not by default.

Priority is a singular word.  (It's nonsensical to talk about having many priorities; time to reevaluate.)

The essence of being an essentialist is found in choosing (you always have a choice what to do), discerning (good is the worst enemy of best), and acknowledging trade-offs (face the reality that you cannot do it all.)

Practical steps in living out essentialism:

I. Explore and Evaluate

A. Make space and take time to think.
B. Listen and look -- figure out what the "lead" of the story is.
C. Play.
D. Sleep.
E. Be selective -- have extreme critera. 

II. Eliminate

A. Clarify -- what is the essential intent?  Should be both concrete and inspirational.
B. Dare to say no.
C. Uncommit -- cut your losses.
D. Edit.  It's an invisible art.
E. Limit.  Set boundaries.

III. Execute

A. Build in buffers, particularly of time.
B. Practice extreme preparation.
C. Remove obstacles. (Anything to keep the help coming, as my Mom taught me.)
D. Encourage progress by celebrating small wins.
E. Build in "flow" with routines.
F. Focus. Ask What's important now? (Or, if you're familiar with Elisabeth Elliot, Do the next thing.)
G. It's about being, not doing.

And one fun project to research: The Heroic Imagination Project.


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