May 3, 2022

Book Review: Essentialism by Greg McKeown


This book had been on my wishlist for a while. And I finally bought a copy and read it over the past few weeks.

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I bought this book for Rs.199.

Essentialism provides a neat 4-step framework to simplify our life across multiple aspects with a core theme "Less but better". The framework doesn't stop at a conceptual level. Rather, each step is explained through a series of actionable verbs.

The author has shared multiple anecdotes to explain the framework. What surprised me the most is that he gives a lot more emphasis to our work lives and how one could go about separating the vital few from the trivial many.

He sets the context of the Essentialist mindset right from the beginning - "If you don't prioritise your time, someone else will". Social pressure, increased number of choices, opinion overload, pressure to "have it all" - all these aspects push us into the non-essential mode of living. The most impactful step for me is the 3rd - Eliminate, where the author talks about the importance of gaining clarity, saying No, editing our life to cut out the unimportant and how to go about setting boundaries.

Though I loved the overall structure of the book, it felt a bit repetitive in most places and sometimes, a little dry too. But this doesn't dilute the effect of the powerful messages being conveyed. A few samples below:

"Our options may be things but a choice is an action"
"In order to have focus, we need to escape to focus"
"Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritise"
"Of all forms of human motivation, the most effective one is progress"
"Boundaries are a little like the walls of a sandcastle. The second we let one fall over, the rest of them come crashing down."
"When we have strong internal clarity, it is almost as if we have a force field protecting us from the non-essentials coming at us from all directions"

Do pick up this book, if simplifying your life is something you intend to do and looking for inspiration.

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