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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

 "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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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.

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 04-27-14

Multiple reads required

The book is well written, information dense, and well read. It is a must for business or personal improvement! It will require multiple reads to get as much information and might be worth a kindle/audible combo to write notes for later references.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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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.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Good perspective, but nothing new

The prospective the author used in this book was thought provoking, however I didn't find any processes or ideas to be new. The examples of essentialism used did not relate with me as a young professional. Most likely it is because the author is trying to fit a huge concept in a single book. The book assumes that the reader is in a position to to say "no" to anything that does not contribute to their personal success. As a young professional trying to grow a business, family, and life it is not that easy. I would like to see the author write a book about taking steps to establishing the concept of "essentialism" slowly and as a career progresses and goals change.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • Lisle, IL, United States
  • 08-30-14

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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Essential lessons for success

If you don't set your priorities, someone else will.
If you don't maintain your boundaries, nobody will.
If you don't chart your own course and stick to it, someone else will.
You can accomplish much more, by doing less.
This book is full of outstanding advice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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?


7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Less But Better

The book can be summed up in the phrase "less but better." It provides guidance on pruning the trivial many to focus on the vital few. If you want to be an Essentialist (quality over quantity), you must be vigilant in saying "yes" to only those things and activities you love. Otherwise, you'll spread yourself too thin and be mediocre in many things. You won't be making any significant progress in the few things you truly want... you won't be living a meaningful and purposeful life.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Already on my third listen

Less but Better has become a personal motto. I have only started the journey towards becoming an essentialist, but this book has made more tangible change in my life than any other in the past 5 years. Many of the concepts were not entirely new to me, but the author's ability to tie them together in a way that is both simple and profound won me over. I'm on my 3rd listen as I write. As if now, I have dropped all hobbies but one (competitive fly fishing), I have eliminated, reduced, or outsourced non-essential tasks surrounding my side business. I have also gracefully (I hope) declined opportunities and asks at a much higher rate than before. Lots more room for growth!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful