We are probably all guilty of being too busy, myself included. That’s why when I was listening to a recent podcast by Tim Ferris on the idea of essentialism, I was instantly intrigued. The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, a book written by Greg McKeown, advocates the lifestyle of essentialism. If you have the time, I highly recommend listening to the podcast. The author does a great job of explaining essentialism and how it can be applied to your life.
Getting it all done can be a huge challenge, the reason why? It’s impossible! You can’t be everything to everyone. Essentialism teaches us to spend time deciding what is “essential” in our lives and saying no to everything else. In theory it is simple, but in practice it is quite difficult. If you tend to be a people pleaser like me, saying no to people is downright painful. I literally hate it. I am getting better at it and focusing on my goals is one way to make it happen.
According to McKoewn, "Essentialism isn't concerning the way to get additional things done; it's concerning the way to get the proper things done. It doesn't suggest simply doing less for the sake of less either. It is concerning creating the wisest potential investment of some time and energy so as to work at our highest purpose of a contribution by doing solely what's essential."
Forbes explains the 3 key steps of essentialism, that based on the theory of how to get more by doing less. Sounds amazing right?
If you are ready to embrace the idea of doing more with less, there are three main steps – explore and evaluate, eliminate, and execute.
Explore and evaluate:
McKeown provides a key difference between "essentialists" and "non-essentialists". Essentialists, though doing less, actually having more options than their non-essentialist counterparts. Essentialists set a broad set of options, but then commit only one or two to focus and solve them logically and ultimately take the right decisions. On the other hand, non-essentialists are basically mindlessly busy, doing whatever comes their ways without carefully analyzing and ultimately don’t accomplish much.
Take a look at everything you're doing and determine what you really love or what pertains to your goals. If you need help with this, check out this article on Unlocking the Secret to Peace & Joy in Your Life from our sister site.
In this step, you should avoid saying "YES" to everyone, we always trying to please everyone by saying "YES". The fundamental part of Essentialism is that "only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the items that basically matter."
Once you start saying no to things that don’t align with your goals, it becomes associated with your emotional discipline rather than metal. McKeown also writes that you need to understand how you can’t do it all, so quit doing the things which are not important to your success. Focus on the fact that you choose what you will and will not do. Use your power, energy and time to do the essential tasks you determine. By following this concept, you should get more productive.
Cut things out of your life that are trivial and rob you of energy. Other people can try to prevent you from saying "YES" to the things that matter. Other distraction can include internet, Facebook, email or your Netflix binges. Remember that you are saying no to your goals by saying yes to these alternatives.
Execution is the final step and perhaps the most important to your success! To succeed, you must take action. Decide what your priorities are and invest your time to taking actions to move closer to them. Eliminate obstacles, distractions, unnecessary errands, meetings, etc. that are unproductive and a deterrent to your focus. Do the things that matter. Plan for them first. Start eliminating, mercilessly, the things that don't have value.
I think having too many options can be a recipe for “analysis paralysis”. Particularly for people who tend to do a ton of thinking and like to make sure they have thought about things from all angles. It is freeing to be able to say no to things that don’t align to your goals. It frees you up to focus on the big picture and get closer to your long term dreams!