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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | [Greg McKeown]

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy - instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us. Essentialism is not one more thing - it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, April 2014 - At times we all feel the pressure to take on more than we can handle – to pack our schedules full and be all things to all people. We may think we’re doing the right thing, but as Greg McKeown lays out in his new book, ultimately this behavior leads us to feel stressed out, overworked, and under-satisfied. Essentialism is a call to arms to stop the craziness and apply a structured discipline that will help to identify and foster what matters. By cutting out the nonessential, we can in-turn achieve productivity, fulfillment, and success. —Regina, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Are you often busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist. The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy - instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us. Essentialism is not one more thing - it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

©2014 Greg McKeown (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

 "Do you feel it, too? That relentless pressure to sample all the good things in life? To do all the 'right' things? The reality is, you don’t make progress that way. Instead, you’re in danger of spreading your efforts so thin that you make no impact at all. Greg McKeown believes the answer lies in paring life down to its essentials. He can’t tell you what’s essential to every life, but he can help you find the meaning in yours.”
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE
 
“Entrepreneurs succeed when they say "yes" to the right project, at the right time, in the right way. To accomplish this, they have to be good at saying "no" to all their other ideas. Essentialism offers concise and eloquent advice on how to determine what you care about most, and how to apply your energies in ways that ultimately bring you the greatest rewards.”
-- Reid Hoffman, co-founder/chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestseller “The Start-up of You”
 
Essentialism holds the keys to solving one of the great puzzles of life: how can we do less but accomplish more? A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked—in other words, everyone. It has already changed the way that I think about my own priorities, and if more leaders embraced this philosophy, our jobs and our lives would be less stressful and more productive. So drop what you’re doing and read it..”
~Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
 

“As a self-proclaimed "maximalist" who always wants to do it all, this book challenged me and improved my life. If you want to work better, not just less, you should read it too.” 
- Chris Guillebeau, NYT bestselling author of The $100 Startup

"Great design takes us beyond the complex, the unnecessary and confusing, to the simple, clear and meaningful. This is as true for the design of a life as it is for the design of a product. With Essentialism, Greg McKeown gives us the invaluable guidebook for just such a project." 
-Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
 
  "In Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes a compelling case for achieving more by doing less. He reminds us that clarity of focus and the ability to say ‘no’ are both critical and undervalued in business today."
-Jeff Weiner, ‎CEO, LinkedIn


“Essentialism is a powerful antidote to the current craziness that plagues our organizations and our lives.  Read Greg McKeown’s words slowly, stop and think about how to apply them to your life – you will do less, do it better, and begin to feel the insanity start to slip away.” 
- Robert I. Sutton, Professor at Stanford University and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and Scaling Up Excellence.

In a world of increasing chaos and complexity, the ideas and tools of Essentialism turn chaos into commitment and complexity into accomplishment.  This timely, well written book is a must read and do for any employee, manager, leader, or parent whoever  feels overwhelmed. It is truly the right book at the right time.
- Dave Ulrich, Professor, University of Michigan School of Business and Partner, the RBL Group

"Essentialism is a rare gem that will change lives.  Greg offers deep insights, rich context and actionable steps to living life at its fullest.  I've started on the path to an Essentialist way of life, and the impact on my productivity and well-being is profound."
  -Bill Rielly, Senior Vice President, Intel Security

"While everyone else is still leafing through Lean In or Outliers, get a competitive jump on the new year with....Essentialism... learn how to identify the right things, focus on getting them done, and forget the rest. In other words, 'do less, but better.'” -Forbes


From the Hardcover edition.

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  •  
    Jason Comely 05-22-14

    ZEN. LDS. GTD. FTW.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Call me an "Essentialist""

    The message of 'less is better' isn't new to me, but there are fresh insights here. Greg McKeown also does a fantastic job narrating his own book.

    If life feels cluttered and stressed, Essentialism is the (audio)book to get.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Lisle, IL, United States 08-30-14
    Robert Lisle, IL, United States 08-30-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Great book for those looking to simplify"

    Do less, but better.

    Okay I wanted to be simple, but I should expand. This book is essential for those of us who are overwhelmed by tasks. You'll hear why essentialism is important, how to decide was is essential, and what is not. Then it talks about how to apply it: how to stay focused, how to say no, and how to help those around you focus on what is important as well.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris San Jose, CA, United States 04-27-14
    Chris San Jose, CA, United States 04-27-14 Member Since 2010

    Avid Audio Book listener. Usual suspects are Leadership, Business, Philosophy, Biographies, and Random Fiction. But once every couple of months I choose a book I might not have picked...ever...but with good reviews.

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    "Simple yet deep"

    Stop and learn W.I.N. by reading this book. It is an excellent and practical guide to focusing on the essence and importance of life. It might take a few reads on your journey to help you the most; however, it can help all aspects of your life if you are ready. Highly recommended!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tia Townsend 05-03-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Life Changer"
    What made the experience of listening to Essentialism the most enjoyable?

    Already listening to this book AGAIN. Greg McKeown provides the reader/listener with perception changing insights into how to manage and succeed just by keeping in mind the most important things in life.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly Helm 06-08-14
    Molly Helm 06-08-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Paring Down..."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I selected this book because it came up as a suggestion and LOVED it. Having the author read it made it especially enjoyable, as his passion for the topic of distilling life to the very best part comes through in his advice, his stories, his applicable tips. As I drive from client to client, appointment to appointment and commitment to commitment, this books struck a chord. I have suggested it to at least 10 people and suggest it to YOU as well.


    What did you learn from Essentialism that you would use in your daily life?

    If something isn't "hell yes" then it's a "no."

    This book is definitely a "hell yes." Read it.


    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Errol B. 07-28-14
    Errol B. 07-28-14

    mindhead1

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    "Less, but better! Words to live by...."
    Would you listen to Essentialism again? Why?

    I am on my second listening of this book. There is a lot of wisdom in these chapters. Much of the insight of the book are not new, but the presentation of the material and examples of how to incorporate these concepts into your business and life decisions makes it a worthwhile read/listen. I expect I will listen to this book many more times.


    What does Greg McKeown bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Greg's reading of the book was pleasant and well paced. Many times the presenter of these types of books are very dry, despite the interesting nature of the material.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The last book I read 2x in a row was the "5th Discipline" by Peter Senge back in 1994. Like Essentialism, that book helped give me a language to articulate what I had been thinking and a framework for thinking through problems and making decisions.


    Any additional comments?

    Read/Listen to this book!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Pensacola, FL, United States 04-08-15
    Kelly Pensacola, FL, United States 04-08-15 Member Since 2013

    Graphic Designer, foodie, music lover, and I've been sneaking reads with a flash light under the blanket since I was 3.

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    "Less but Better."

    I've made more bookmarks in this book than any other. I only wish I had a way to export them! The narrator has a crisp and clear voice that's easy to listen to and the content is truly eye opening. After this listen, I've solidified my ability to say NO to that which is not essential, allowing more space and freedom to be creative, to innovate, to think freely and have virtually eliminated stress from "taking on too much". Focusing on purpose and meaning, Essentialism is a new understanding for me and a new way to live my life. You can take from this book a little or a lot, which adds to it's beauty. All of the tenants taught here can be applied to any part OR all of your life, business/personal/spiritual or otherwise. The choice is all yours. Everything becomes less, but better.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anita 08-06-14
    Anita 08-06-14
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    "Where has this been all my life?"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Essentialism to be better than the print version?

    I had to have both. I listen to the books and if they're good enough to own, I need the print copy to highlight things I want to remember.


    What other book might you compare Essentialism to and why?

    I can't think of any.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I did listen to it...in one gardening.


    Any additional comments?

    If you're looking for a way to simplify, pare down, and find meaning in the madness this book is a great guide for that. It helped me realize how much of what I was doing was productive and meaningful as opposed to wheel spinning that was digging me deeper into an unhappy hole. If everyone in the world read this book we'd live on a much saner planet feeling a lot more satisfaction in our lives.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LAM X LUU Eden Prairie, MN, US 09-09-14
    LAM X LUU Eden Prairie, MN, US 09-09-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A consultant-style book: useless with bad examples"
    What would have made Essentialism better?

    Frankly, something original and new. Also better anecdotes. This is a terrible book that exemplifies why consultants are terrible for our economies.


    Has Essentialism turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Frankly, the best aspect of this book is the list of citations, all of which are excellent writers and books.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Extremely disappointed. This book reminds me of an episode in "How I Met Your Mother," where one character described how to make a "winning" video resume: look like you are innovator and action-oriented (eg. riding horse and motorbike, says) and spill out big-sounding words, but don't actually do anything, because actually doing things gets you fired.

    This book is exactly that. It spills big sounding words at you, like "essentialism" and "protect your assets" and "play" etc., but it actually does not say anything new. In fact, for a book about Essentialism with a writer who proclaims that he lives what he teaches, it is not very essentialist. An "essentialist" starts out as someone who deliberately chooses to focus on something. Sounds good? Then, that definition starts to grow hair and tentacles: an "essentialist" acquires properties like acknowledging trade-off, sleeping a lot, having boundaries, playing, planning ahead, etc. Meanwhile, essential issues are not addressed: how do you know what to focus on? how to see all trade-off? etc.


    Any additional comments?

    This book contains many very disturbing anecdotes, but they are told in such a casual tone that I can't decide between disgust, anger, or just pity.

    For example, to demonstrate his "deliberation," the author recounted how he decided his life direction; one would expects (remember, deliberation) hours or days of analysis over pros and cons, or months of consideration and trying things out; instead, the story is about 5 minutes of writing out what he happened to want (at that point, of course). He then quit his school, uprooted from his country, and remade his life, based on a 5-minute decision. Frankly, this story should have been told this way: a guy made an impulsive decision, got lucky, and stuck with it. Deliberation? I think not.

    Similarly, in an age when internal drive is highly value, the author cheerfully recounted how he decreased his kids' screen time by paying for them. Oh, and he encouraged the readers to do the same. Really?

    20 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taylor Jennings 04-03-15 Member Since 2014

    27 yr old immersed in personal development. Startup junkie, life hacker, visionary, real estate investor, and follower of my man Jesus!

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    "Life in Perspective"

    Helps put things into perspective whether your wearing yourself too thin or want more free time!
    I'm working on saying no now =) awesome

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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