Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

  1. McKeown shows you how to get more done in less time and do it better. You must be very selective about what to focus on, eliminate everything else and learn how to emphatically but gracefully say no. Less but better

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Key Takeaways  

  1. The wisdom of life lies in the removal of nonessentials
  2. Learn to say no – accept only the take you have the time and resources for. Allows you to produce higher quality work, be less stressed and more focused – do the work where you can have the biggest contribution
  3. Less but better
  4. Explore, eliminate, execute. With clothes, for example, ask if you love it, wear it often and look good in it. Then put clothes that don’t meet this into an eliminate pile. And lastly, execute as effortlessly as possible. 
  5. Essentialist choose to do something whereas others feel like they have to
  6. Tasks should meet these criteria – you’re passionate about it, good at it and the world needs it
  7. Be brutally honest and transparent about trade offs. More or better
  8. Schedule time daily to do nothing and just think
  9. Often what not said or done more important than what is being said or done. Read between the lines to get a sense of the big picture and trends 
  10. Aim to only do or have things that you absolutely love. Can try to implement a grading system and make a rule that anything that falls below an 8 is rejected. Whatever the rule is, make it selective and explicit 
  11. Saying no emphatically but gracefully is very difficult and takes practice. Must get over this fear as it really brings great results and respect from others. In short, learn the art of the slow yes and the quick no
  12. Be the editor of your life – remove things you consider nonessential. Deliberate and disciplined subtraction
  13. 4 rules of subtraction
    1. Cut out options
    2. Condense everything you say and do
    3. Understand your life’s overarching intent and what is important for you and make decisions fitting with that
    4. Edit/do less
  14. Start everything early and small
  15. Routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition
  16. Through habits, make the essential your default mindset which makes things looks easy. Routines allow you to do great things on autopilot. Spend a great deal of time consciously deciding what habits and routines you want to form and this will payoff in spades once it all becomes habit. Also creates mental space which allows you to try new and challenging things
  17. Every habit consists of a cue, routine and reward and in order to change a habit one must change the cue
  18. WIN – what’s important now – gets you to focus on the most important
  19. When you truly adopt the tenets of essentialism, you will often find yourself acting in opposite of the people around you. Saying no when others say yes, thinking when others are acting, listening when others are speaking
  20. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness
  21. Attempt to apply the question – is this essential? Into every aspect of your life. Eliminate the rest

  What I got out of it  

  1. No doubt implementing the ideas McKeown lays out here will be difficult but I also think they are no-brainers. Learning to gracefully but emphatically say no will be hugely important. The process of asking whether every possession/action/idea is essential is exciting (at least to me…) as I believe it leads to self-knowledge.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

  1. Henry David Thoreau went to live in the woods for two years and two months in order to live deliberately and to distance himself from society. The ultimate book on self-sufficiency and simplicity
Key Takeaways
  1. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
  2. Men have become the tools of their tools.” 
  3. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
  4. Key points – Less is better, the civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage, live life fully, self reliance is key, simplicity, anti-consumerism
What I got out of it
  1. While there is controversy over how true Thoreau was to this lifestyle (some say he visited friends, dined and lived luxuriously for short spurts), it is nonetheless a fascinating book about living minimally, efficiently and naturally. We really need so little to be content and this book is the epitome of that notion. Slow at times but well worth it to get the overall lessons and great quotes.

Buy Walden