Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is a new book by Greg McKeown that tackles the Unimportance of Practically Everything. Or, put another way, if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
I originally bought Essentialism as an audiobook, but after I got a cold and was forced to stay home (and rest, and drink my fluids) I bought the Kindle version so I could finish it.
Essentialism is a philosophy that recognizes that we have to choose. Time is not unlimited. We can’t do it all, and we certainly can’t do it all well.
Pursuing Essentialism starts with deciding what is essential. What is most important to me? What must I do? Essentialists constantly explore these questions because the answers can change over time.
But once I decide what is essential to me, I must make choices. Choices that allow me to stay focused on that which is essential. Everything else must go.
And life gives us many choices. Opportunities arise. We constantly – daily, hourly – choose the way we spend our time. But each decision must be measured against that which is essential. Does this activity feed into what is essential to me, or is it merely a distraction? One’s ego can get in the way, as can a habit of people pleasing.
I finished an activity yesterday that can be easily done by any number of people. It is not complicated or challenging. Or fulfilling. It gives me no particular personal or professional benefit. The stipend I receive is well below my normal billing rate. If anything, it was a drag on my time every quarter. It started simply enough. The gentleman who had been doing it was ill and I was asked to take it over. And that was over 20 years ago.
This is the opposite of Essentialism. Needless to say, as I delivered this quarter’s report, I politely resigned.
So how do you decide when you are offered opportunity? Simple. The answer is either hell yes or no.
– Bob Gagliano
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