Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Chapter 1: The Essentialist

Steps of Essentialism (also parts of this book)

  1. Explore: discerning the trivial many from the vital few
  2. Eliminate: cutting out the trivial many
  3. Execute: removing obstacles and making execution effortless

Life is Short

Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? — Mary Oliver

Part I: Essence: What is the core mind-set of an essentialist?

Three assumptions we need to conquer:

  1. "I have to"
  2. "It's all important"
  3. "I can do both"

Need to replace these with:

  1. "I choose to"
  2. "Only a few things really matter"
  3. "I can do anything but not everything"

Chapter 2: Choose: The Invincible Power of Choice

Learned Helplessness

When humans believe or feel that their actions don't have an impact, they respond in one of two ways:

  1. They check out. They give up on trying to do anything.
  2. They get hyperactive and try to do everything. They believe they don't have a choice in assignments or opportunities, and feel that they need to accept them all.

Chapter 3: Discern: The Unimportance of Practically Everything

Chapter 4: Trade-Off: Which Problem Do I Want?

Case Study: Southwest Airlines

Part II: Explore: How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?

A paradox of essentialism is that Essentialists tend to explore more options than Nonessentialists. The idea is that they do more research to decide what to go big on.

Chapter 5: Escape: The Perks of Being Unavailable

Chapter 6: Look: See What Really Matters

Chapter 7: Play: Embrace the Wisdom of Your Inner Child

Chapter 8: Sleep: Protect the Asset

Chapter 9: Select: The Power of Extreme Criteria

Part II: Eliminate: How Can We Cut Out the Trivial Many?

You have to actively eliminate the non-essential in order to have time and space to contribute more to the essential.

Chapter 10: Clarify: One Decision That Makes A Thousand

Chapter 11: Dare: The Power of a Graceful "No"

Chapter 12: Uncommit: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses

Chapter 13: Edit: The Invisible Art

Chapter 14: Limit: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries

Part III: Execute: How Can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?

Once you've figured out which activities and efforts to keep in your life, create a system for executing them.