I read Greg McKeon’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less over Christmas break. I held off writing about the book because I wanted to see how well the ideas would stick. Many times, I’ll read books like this and they will capture my interest and then fade from my memory after a week or two. I found the book tremendously engaging but wanted to see how lasting the effects would be.
I can say with certainty that the book has influenced my thinking and my practice this year perhaps greater than any book in recent memory. I was initially hooked by the book’s essential questions:
- Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin at home or at work?
- Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized?
- Do you ever feel busy but not productive?
- Do you ever feel like you’re constantly in motion, but never getting anywhere?
Sold. Been there. Repeatedly. So I read with interest as the book guided me through the four sections entitled “essence” (the mindset of an essentialist), “explore” (How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?), “eliminate” (How can we cut out the trivial many?), and “execute” (How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?).
The book challenged me to find what is truly important and to utilize my time better so I can work and live better. I’ve never been a fan of working long hours for the sake of working hard but I’ve never found the guiding principles so well-articulated. McKeon challenged me to prioritize my time at work and at home to pursue the most important items in order to be more productive and more content. For example, I took a look at how we’re spending our resources in the office to be more strategic—eliminating paperwork, for example, for paperwork’s sake, trying to become more efficient.
I can’t write a book report summarizing the main points. I can only recommend the book as a summer read so that you can begin to look at how you spend your time in order to become more productive and more happy. Here are a few other related resources to spark your interest:
- Ted Bauer’s article on Greg McKeon’s Essentialist philosophy
- Ted Coine’s article on Essentialism
- Forbes article on Essentialism philosophy
- Greg McKeon’s short 5 minute video on YouTube
- Greg McKeon on YouTube (42 minutes)
- Short video on Essentialism
Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent