NET OUT: Essentialism by Greg Mckeown


Essentialism by Greg Mckeown

Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time right now?

The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better.

Determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things that almost effortless.

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

…”the undisciplined pursuit of more”

When we try to do it all and have it all, we find ourselves making trade-offs at the margins that we would never take on as our intentional strategy.

Deliberately and strategically eliminating the nonessentials, and not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but cutting out some really good opportunities as well.

Focus on what is absolutely essential by eliminating everything else.

  1. Explore and evaluate
  2. Eliminate
  3. Execute


We can choose how to spend our energy and time.

Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.

The reality of trade offs -We can’t have it all or do it all.

What do I feel deeply inspired by? What am I particularly talented at? What meets a significant need in the world?

Right thing at the right time.

We must give ourselves permission…

Chose is an action.

Doing less but thinking more.

Certain types of efforts yield a higher reward than others.

Less but better.

Law Of The Vital Few: You can massively improve the quality of a product by resolving a tiny fraction of the problems.

Certain efforts actually produce exponentially more results than others.

Discern more so you can do less.

Essentialist asks – What is the trade off I want to make? What can I go big on?

If people are too busy to think, they’re too busy, period.

Focus is something we DO.

Essentialist – Creates space to escape and explore life.

“The faintest pencil is better than the strongest memory.”

Journaling is super important. >> Action item

Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. Nothing fires up the brain like play.

The real challenge for the person who thrives on challenges is not to work hard.

Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.

Everything should be a Hell No or Hell Yes. No middle ground.

If isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no. 

If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?

How will we know when we have succeeded?

Choose “no” more often than you say no. Say no frequently and gracefully.

-Use the words – You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.

Sunk Cost basis – the tendency to continue to invest time, money or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred or sunk cost that cannot be recouped.


-If I weren’t invested in this project, how much would I invest in it now?

-What else could I do with this time or money if I pulled the plug now?

-Comfortable with cutting losses.

Endowment effect – our tendency to undervalue things that aren’t ours and overvalue things because we already own them.

Apply zero based budgeting – start from scratch when building budgets.

Stop making casual commitments. 

Pause before you speak. 

Cut out options to make better decisions.

We must summon the discipline to get rid of options or activities that may be good, or even really good, but that get in the way. Every additional moment gained can be spent on something better.

Eliminate meaningless activities and replace them with meaningful activities.

Edit your tendency to step in.

The boundary 0f work has edged insidiously into family territory.

Craft social contracts with difficulty people and situations – “Let’s just agree on what we want to achieve”.

Create buffer zones to create extra space. The future is simply too unpredictable – build buffers to reduce friction caused by the unexpected.

The essentialist makes a one time investment into removing obstacles to bring forth more.

-Be clear about the desired income.

-What is keeping me from completing this?

-Remove the obstacle.

Start small and celebrate progress. Small simple wins in essential areas.

Progress is the most effective motivation.

When we start small and reward progress, we end up achieving more than when we set big lofty and often impossible goals.

Routines are very important. If we create a routine that enshrines the essentials, we will begin to execute them on autopilot.

Every habit is made up of a cue, a routine and a reward.

The way of the essentialist is to tune into the present. They don’t diffuse their efforts with distractions.

What is good for the mind is good for the soul.

We can’t concentrate on two things at once.

What is important right now? Be there.

In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present – Lao Tzu

As ideas become emotionally true, they take on the power to change you.

Focusing on essentialism is a choice.

Clear intent leads to alignment; vague direction produce misalignment every time.

Be really clear about what your team is expected to contribute and what everyone else is contributing.

The more items one pursues, the harder it is to follow up on all of them.

By checking in with people frequently to reward small wins and help people remove obstacles, you will bolster the team’s motivation and focus and will enable them to make more meaningful progress.



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