Essentialism is for the busy person looking for a way to take control of their lives. Essentialism, as the front flap says, is not about “getting more done in less time, but getting only the right things done.” Focusing on the right things can be a difficult task, especially for the person stuck wearing many hats. This book is similar to What’s Best Next by Matt Perman, you can read my review for that book here, but without the Gospel woven into everything.
Essentialism is divided into 4 parts: Essence, Explore, Eliminate and Execute. Essence is all about the mindset of someone who wants to focus on the essentials of life and goes through how what we do with our lives is basically our choice. When it comes to our day and how we plan it out, we have the choice with most things we do. For many businessmen or women, there are things that are required but Greg talks about how each person needs to choose what they take part in and what they wind up giving their time to and learn how to say no to things that are not essential. He uses personal stories to help drive this story home. Along with that he speaks of needing discernment and learning how to make trade-offs when it comes to our choices.
The second part goes deeper into the idea of discernment and how if we are to be successful at becoming an essentialist, we need to determine what is essential to our lives. Greg drives this point home with these essential parts of what every “essentialist” should have in their lives: escape, look, play, sleep, and select. Each of these parts is important for a person to keep their wits about them. I specifically enjoyed the section on play. He mentioned a couple companies that strategically placed times of “play” in their employees work day and the benefits that resulted from those times.
Part 3 is about elimination, what can be eliminated from our lives that keep us from focusing on the essentials. This starts with clarify, the moves on to dare, uncommit, edit, and limit. So far, you can see that Essentialism is pretty basic but the author’s intention is to help people make the decisions necessary to become more focused and not allow the things on the peripheral to get more attention from us then they need. This part is probably the hardest for most of us because sometimes we do not want to eliminate anything from our lives, no matter how trivial it may seem or no matter how much we know we need to cut it out. It can be compared to the person who knows they need to diet but loves food so much they do not want to cut anything out. For us to gain control of our lives elimination is a must and this part helps lead someone through deciding and discerning what can be cut out.
The last part is what most everyone struggles with: execution. Even the best laid plans fail if there is no execution. No matter how many books you read on productivity, or how many apps you have on your smartphone to get things done, it does not matter if there is no execution on our part. Imagine a sports team training for a big game. They go through drills over and over again, they watch film of themselves, they watch film of their opponent, and they plan. Coaches will sit down and come up with a plan of attack on how to play their opponents and then they will practice that plan, and keep practicing until they feel they are ready. However, at the end of any big game, if you ask the coach of the losing team what went wrong, many times you will hear something similar to this: “we just didn’t execute our plan.” This is where the rubber meets the road. If you fail to execute what you just spent time reading, then nothing will change in your life and years will pass by and you will wonder what happened.
Overall, this book is a good book for someone wanting to simplify their lives and learn how to become an “essentialist.” I cannot say it is my favorite but the author makes some great points and it helps that he has actually experienced what he is writing about. This is not a bad book though and if you find yourself struggling to catch your breath because of everything pulling at you, pick up this book as it is simple and easy to read but also practical.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.