Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Big Idea: Do less but achieve more by focusing on the true essentials.

  • Most of what typical people do is non-essential.
  • Ignore what typical people do, because typical people tend to focus on being busy — not on doing the right things.
  • Treat your time has highly valuable.
  • If you value your time, then you can’t say yes to everything
  • 80/20 rule means some of your efforts yield most of your results.
  • Since we all have limited time, those high-yield efforts are the most essential ones.
  • Southwest became dominant because Herb Kelleher focused on the essentials and said no to non-essentials: destinations not on the map, meals, first-class.
  • If you don’t prioritize your time, others will do it for you.


  • Escape: create a time and a space where you can escape interruptions for deep work
  • Look: learn to find the signal in the noise
  • Play: play broadens your range and sparks innovation
  • Sleep: good sleep leads to good decisions, creative thinking, and high performance
  • Select: carefully choose what opportunities to explore; it’s either hell yeah or no
  • Clarify: know your intent; make decisions that eliminates other decisions
  • Dare: say no firmly/gracefully and people will respect you
  • Uncommit: don’t be afraid to cut your losses and change direction
  • Edit: cut out the nonessential to focus on the essential
  • Limit: create boundaries to create freedom (eg. checklists)
  • Buffer: give yourself a margin of error
  • Subtract: remove unnecessary obstacles
  • Progress: start small, keep it simple, build a system for long-term success
  • Flow: implement routines that makes execution effortless
  • Focus: All I do is WIN = What’s Important Now?
  • Be: Don’t do essentialism, be an essentialist

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