Essentialism: The disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014)

My main idea from this book is I need to improve my commitment to saying, “No,” to less important things to say, “Yes,” to the most important people and things.

Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter (Location 4, Kindle Edition).

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential (Location 6, Kindle Edition).

Essentialism is about creating a system for handling the closet of our lives. This is not a process you undertake once a year, once a month, or even once a week, like organizing your closet. It is a discipline you apply each and every time you are faced with a decision about whether to say yes or whether to politely decline. It’s a method for making the tough trade-off between lots of good things and a few really great things. It’s about learning how to do less but better so you can achieve the highest possible return on every precious moment of your life (Location 19, Kindle Edition).

  1. Individual choice: We can choose how to spend our energy and time. Without choice, there is no point in talking about trade-offs.
  2. The prevalence of noise: Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. This is the justification for taking time to figure out what is most important. Because some things are so much more important, the effort in finding those things is worth it.
  3. The reality of trade-offs: We can’t have it all or do it all. If we could, there would be no reason to evaluate or eliminate options. Once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking, “How can I make it all work?” and start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?” (Location 20, Kindle Edition).

To eliminate nonessentials means saying no to someone. Often. It means pushing against social expectations. To do it well takes courage and compassion. So eliminating the nonessentials isn’t just about mental discipline. It’s about the emotional discipline necessary to say no to social pressure (Location 23, Kindle Edition).

Given the reality of trade-offs, we can’t choose to do everything. The real question is not how can we do it all, it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. Remember, when we forfeit our right to choose, someone else will choose for us. So we can either deliberately choose what not to do or allow ourselves to be pulled in directions we don’t want to go(Location 23, Kindle Edition).

What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?

What if the whole world shifted from the undisciplined pursuit of more to the disciplined pursuit of less … only better?

I have a vision of people everywhere having the courage to live a life true to themselves instead of the life others expect of them (Location 26, Kindle Edition).

There are three deeply entrenched assumptions we must conquer to live the way of the Essentialist: “I have to,” “It’s all important,” and “I can do both.” Like mythological sirens, these assumptions are as dangerous as they are seductive. They draw us in and drown us in shallow waters.

To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything” (Location 32, Kindle Edition).

John Maxwell has written, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything” (Location 45, Kindle Edition).

Albert Einstein once said: “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

… play is an antidote to stress, and this is key because stress, in addition to being an enemy of productivity, can actually shut down the creative, inquisitive, exploratory parts of our brain (Location 87, Kindle Edition).

In a Harvard Business Review article called “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer,” Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has explained how sleep deprivation undermines high performance. He likens sleep deficit to drinking too much alcohol, explaining that pulling an all-nighter (i.e., going twenty-four hours without sleep) or having a week of sleeping just four or five hours a night actually “induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%. Think about this: we would never say, ‘This person is a great worker! He’s drunk all the time!’ yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep for work” Location 97, 98, Kindle Edition).

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