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Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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  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.