Mastering the Art of Essentialism: 7 Lessons for Simplifying Your Life and Prioritising What Matters Most


Greg McKeown wrote a book called “Essentialism,” which shows how to simplify your life by focusing on what’s important. In this book, McKeown questions the belief that having more choices, chances, and things makes for a happier life. Instead, he says that people should try to do less but better. This blog post will summarise the most important things to learn from essentialism and show how they can be used in real life.

Lesson 1: The Power of Choice

Essentialism first teaches us that we have the power to choose. McKeown says that the decisions we make determine how our lives turn out. But most people must think more carefully about their choices, so they are pulled in many directions. To become an essentialist, you must learn to use your power of choice by deciding what’s important and making decisions based on that.

For example, think about a marketing executive who is always asked to attend meetings, look over documents, and give comments. If she says yes to everything, she will be too busy and unable to focus on her most important jobs. On the other hand, if she learns to say no to non-essential chores, she will have more time to work on her top priorities, like making a new marketing plan.

Lesson 2: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

The second thing I learned from essentialism is to work hard to do less. McKeown says the key to success is not to do more but to do less and better. Essentialists know they can’t do everything, so they concentrate on what is most important. They aren’t afraid to say no to jobs that aren’t important, even if it means letting other people down.

Think about a software worker who is making a new product. If he adds too many options, the product will be too big and hard to use. But if he focuses on the most important parts, the product will be simpler and easier to use. Instead of trying to do everything, people can focus on the most important things, like spending quality time with family. This method can also be used in daily life.

Lesson 3: The Importance of Trade-Offs

The third thing I learned from essentialism is that trade-offs are important. McKeown says every choice has trade-offs, and essentialists are willing to make these trade-offs. They know that saying yes to one thing means they can’t do something else. So they make choices based on what they think is important and what they value.

For example, imagine a lawyer asked to take on a high-profile case requiring her to work long hours and give up time with her family. If her family is more important to her than her job, she may decide to turn down the case. On the other hand, if she cares more about her job, she might decide to take on the case, but she would have to give up something else.

Lesson 4: The Power of Small Wins

The power of small wins is the fourth thing I learned from essentialism. McKeown says essentialists try to improve things in small ways that add up over time. They know that making big changes often requires doing small things repeatedly.

Say, for instance, a writer wants to write a book. If she tries to write the whole book at once, she will probably give up because it will be too much. But she will progress steadily over time if she writes one page daily. This method can also be used in personal life, where people can make small changes to improve their health or relationships, such as working out for 15 minutes a day or having a meaningful talk with a loved one once a week.

Lesson 5: The Importance of Play

The fifth thing I learned from essentialism is that play is important. McKeown says that essentialists know how important play is and make room for it in their lives. Playing can give your mind and body a much-needed break from work stress and help you feel better. It can also make people more creative and help them look at issues differently.

For example, think about a software developer working for weeks on a hard job. He might get tired and lose interest if he keeps working without stopping. But if he stops playing a game or doing a hobby, he might return to his work with new ideas and energy.

Lesson 6: The Power of Saying No

The sixth thing I learned from essentialism is that it’s okay to say “no.” McKeown says that saying “no” is an important part of becoming an essentialist because it helps people focus on what’s important. Saying “no” isn’t about being rude or self-centered; it’s about being deliberate and aware of what’s important.

Take the case of a manager who is asked to take on a new project that doesn’t fit her team’s goals. If she says yes, it will take time and resources away from her team’s important work. But if she says no, she can protect her team’s goals and ensure they are working on what is important.

Lesson 7: The Importance of Rest

Essentialism’s seventh lesson is how important it is to rest. McKeown says essentialists know how important rest is and make time for it. There are many ways to rest, such as sleeping, meditating, or relaxing. It is important to keep the mind and body fresh to avoid burnout.

For example, think about a teacher marking papers and planning lessons for a few hours. She might tire and lose concentration if she keeps working without a break. But if she takes a short break to relax or practice deep breathing, she can regain her energy and focus on her work.


Ultimately, Essentialism is a strong book that gives a step-by-step plan for making life easier and focusing on what’s important. Anyone can become an essentialist and live a more satisfying life by choosing to do less but better, making trade-offs, focusing on small wins, making time for play, saying “no,” and putting rest first. These lessons can help people reach their goals and live more purposefully in their personal and work lives.

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