Victor Hugo, the French novelist, once wrote “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”.  Well, the principle of “less but better” is one of those ideas.

In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown lays out a different way of living in the information age.

He calls it the “disciplined pursuit of less” but it’s way more than just uncluttering your inbox.

He describes it as “reaching your highest level of contribution”.

We’re surrounded by messages of having it all and unlimited choices as if that’s what is best for us. 

It’s not.

I loved this quote from Peter Drucker in the book: “In a few hundred years, when history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce.  It is an unprecedented change in the human condition.  For the first time – literally – substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices.  For the first time, they will have to manage themselves.  And society is totally unprepared for it.”

With so much choice, ironically, we are losing our power to choose.

One of the tools McKeown puts forth to address this dilemma is simple – the power of saying “no”.

I applied it at my day job.  I left non-essential emails unanswered.  I declined a meeting I wasn’t needed for.

I focused on the important, essential things I NEEDED TO DO. 

I had a taste of what a truly productive day at work could look like.

I had to make choices.  One of them involved choosing not to respond to people and how that might be perceived.

It wasn’t easy.

But it gets right to the heart of what essentialism is all about.

We can be so much more effective in our daily lives by clearing away the noise – by eliminating the trivial things.

And attending to what is important – the more purposeful things.

Isn’t that where our time should go?

If you’re not operating at a high level of effectiveness, and let’s face it, most of us are not, then Essentialism will be a game-changer for you.

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