Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Author: McKeown, Greg
McKeown, Greg. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Ebury Publishing, 2014. Kindle file.
Notes by: Jacopo Perfetti.

Chapter 1 The Essentialist
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“Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?”
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If he couldn’t answer a definitive yes, then he would refuse the request.
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He explained to me, “Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend.”
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by being selective he bought himself space, and in that space he found creative freedom.
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Instead of making just a millimetre of progress in a million directions he began to generate tremendous momentum towards accomplishing the things that were truly vital.
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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 things that really matter.
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German words: Weniger aber besser. The English translation is: Less but better.
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It means pursuing it in a disciplined way.
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pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?”
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it’s about how to get the right things done.
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Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many,
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If you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will.
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in our society we are punished for good behaviour (saying no) and rewarded for bad behaviour (saying yes).
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what I call “the paradox of success,” 2 which can be summed up in four predictable phases:
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PHASE 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it enables us to succeed at our endeavour.
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PHASE 2: When we have success, we gain a reputation as a “go to” person. We become “good old [insert name],” who is always there when you need him, and we are presented with increased options and opportunities.
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PHASE 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, which is actually code for demands upon our time and energies, it leads to diffused efforts. We get spread thinner and thinner.
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PHASE 4: We become distracted from what would otherwise be our highest level of contribution. The effect of our success has been to undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.
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the pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure.
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As Peter Drucker said, “In a few hundred years, when the 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.” 4
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We have lost our ability to filter what is important and what isn’t. Psychologists call this “decision fatigue”: the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates.
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TOO MUCH SOCIAL PRESSURE It is not just the number of choices that has increased exponentially, it is also the strength and number of outside influences on our decisions that has increased.
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The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular.
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It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralise
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When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people –our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families –will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.
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an Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware, who cared for people in the last twelve weeks of their lives, recorded their most often discussed regrets. At the top of the list: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
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Here’s how an Essentialist would approach
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1. EXPLORE AND EVALUATE
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“Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?”
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2. ELIMINATE
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there is still a feeling of sunk-cost bias: studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and thus that we find them more difficult to get rid of.
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ask the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?”
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3. EXECUTE
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once you’ve figured out which activities and efforts to keep –the ones that make your highest level of contribution –you need a system to make executing your intentions as effortless as possible.
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Essentialist thinking
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1. Individual choice: We can choose how to spend our energy and time.
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2. The prevalence of noise: Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.
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3. The reality of trade-offs: We can’t have it all or do it all.
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method
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STEP 1. EXPLORE: DISCERNING THE TRIVIAL MANY FROM THE VITAL FEW
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STEP 2. ELIMINATE: CUTTING OUT THE TRIVIAL MANY
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the key to making our highest contribution may well be saying no.
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To eliminate non-essentials means saying no to someone. Often. It means pushing against social expectations. To do it well takes courage and compassion. So eliminating the non-essentials isn’t just about mental discipline. It’s about the emotional discipline
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STEP 3. EXECUTE: REMOVING OBSTACLES AND MAKING EXECUTION EFFORTLESS

PART I: ESSENCE
What Is the Core Logic of an Essentialist?

Chapter 2 CHOOSE (The Invincible Power of Choice)
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“If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?”
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choice is an action. It is not just something we have but something we do.
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Options (things) can be taken away, while our core ability to choose (free will) cannot be.
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Martin Seligman and Steve Maier,
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“learned helplessness”
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When people believe that their efforts at work don’t matter, they tend to respond in one of two ways.
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Sometimes they check out and stop trying,
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The other response is less obvious at first. They do the opposite. They become hyperactive. They accept every opportunity presented.
Chapter 3 DISCERN (The Unimportance of Practically Everything)
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we have been taught from a young age that hard work is key to producing results,
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Is there a point at which doing more does not produce more?
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Working hard is important. But more effort does not necessarily yield more results. “Less but better” does.
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in 1951, in his Quality-Control Handbook, Joseph Moses Juran,
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“the Law of the Vital Few.”
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you could massively improve the quality of a product by resolving a tiny fraction of the problems.
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improving just those few things that were truly vital,
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Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”
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The overwhelming reality is: we live in a world where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.
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A non-Essentialist thinks almost everything is essential. An Essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential.
Chapter 4 TRADE-OFF (Which Problem Do I Want?)
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Herb Kelleher,
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said: “You have to look at every opportunity and say, ‘Well, no … I’m sorry. We’re not going to do a thousand different things that really won’t contribute much to the end result we are trying to achieve.’ ”
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Harvard Business School professor Michel Porter terms “straddling” their strategy. In the simplest terms, straddling means keeping your existing strategy intact while simultaneously also trying to adopt the strategy of a competitor.
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ignoring the reality of trade-offs is a terrible strategy for organisations. It turns out to be a terrible strategy for people as well.
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Their logic, which ignores the reality of trade-offs, is I can do both. The rather important problem is that this logic is false.
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A non-Essentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “Which problem do I want?” An Essentialist makes trade-offs deliberately. She acts for herself rather than waiting to be acted upon.
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Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?”

PART II: EXPLORE
How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?

The way of the Essentialist, on the other hand, is to explore and evaluate a broad set of options before committing to any.
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Essentialists spend as much time as possible exploring, listening, debating, questioning, and thinking. But their exploration is not an end in itself. The purpose of the exploration is to discern the vital few from the trivial many.
Chapter 5 ESCAPE (The Perks of Being Unavailable)
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Frank O’Brien is the founder of Conversations,
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“Do-Not-Call-Monday.”
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He does this because he knows his people can’t figure out what is essential if they’re constantly on call.
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They need space to figure out what really matters.
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“If somebody can’t make the meeting because of too much going on, that tells me either we’re doing something inefficiently or we need to hire more people.”
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While non-Essentialists automatically react to the latest idea, jump on the latest opportunity, or respond to the latest e-mail, Essentialists choose to create the space to explore and ponder.
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Yes, focus is something we have. But focus is also something we do.
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One leader at Twitter once asked me: “Can you remember what it was like to be bored? It doesn’t happen anymore.” He’s right;
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But by abolishing any chance of being bored we have also lost the time we used to have to think and process.
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the faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus.
Chapter 6 LOOK (See What Really Matters)
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WHERE IS THE KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE LOST IN INFORMATION? –T. S. Eliot
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Being a journalist of your own life will force you to stop hyper-focusing on all the minor details and see the bigger picture.
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Essentialists are powerful observers and listeners. Knowing that the reality of trade-offs means they can’t possibly pay attention to everything, they listen deliberately for what is not being explicitly stated. They read between the lines.
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Non-Essentialists listen too. But they listen while preparing to say something.
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Here are a few ways to tap into your inner journalist.
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Keep a Journal
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Get Out into the Field
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Keep your eyes peeled for abnormal or unusual details
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Clarify the Question
Chapter 7 PLAY (Embrace the Wisdom of Your Inner Child)
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The word school is derived from the Greek word schole, meaning “leisure.”
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Sir Ken Robinson,
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has observed that instead of fuelling creativity through play, schools can actually kill it: “We have sold ourselves into a fast-food model of education, and it’s impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies…. Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.”
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Play, which I would define as anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than as a means to an end
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might seem like a non-essential activity.
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But in fact play is essential in many ways.
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play has the power to significantly improve everything from personal health to relationships to education to organisations’ ability to innovate.
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“Nothing fires up the brain like play.”
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play is so crucial to the development of key cognitive skills it may even play a role in a species’ survival.
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“One thing is certain, during play, animals are especially prone to behave in flexible and creative ways.”
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humans are the biggest players of all.
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Play expands our minds in ways that allow us to explore:
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It helps us to see possibilities we otherwise wouldn’t have seen and make connections we would otherwise not have made.
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Albert Einstein once said: “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”
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I have seen play reverse these effects in my own children. When they are stressed and things feel out of control, I get them to draw. When they do, the change is almost immediate. The stress melts away and their ability to explore is regained.
Chapter 8 SLEEP (Protect the Asset)
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EACH NIGHT, WHEN I GO TO SLEEP, I DIE. AND THE NEXT MORNING, WHEN I WAKE UP, I AM REBORN. –Mahatma Gandhi
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The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves.
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If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution.
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Bill Clinton was quoted as saying that every major mistake he had made in his life had happened as a result of sleep deprivation.
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Non-Essentialist Essentialist THINKS: KNOWS: One hour less of sleep equals one more hour of productivity. One hour more of sleep equals several more hours of much higher productivity. Sleep is for failures. Sleep is for high performers. Sleep is a luxury. Sleep is a priority. Sleep breeds laziness. Sleep breeds creativity. Sleep gets in the way of “doing it all.” Sleep enables the highest levels of mental contribution.
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science shows that even a nap can increase creativity.
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sleep is what allows us to operate at our highest level of contribution so that we can achieve more, in less time.
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Google to take a nap in one of their famous nap pods.
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Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritise.
Chapter 9 SELECT (The Power of Extreme Criteria)
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“If the answer isn’t a definite yes then it should be a no.”
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the 90 Per Cent Rule,
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As you evaluate an option, think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply give the option a score between 0 and 100. If you rate it any lower than 90 per cent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject it.
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The benefits of this ultra-selective approach to decision making in all areas of our lives should be clear: when our selection criteria are too broad, we will find ourselves committing to too many options.
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If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.
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Box CEO Aaron Levie has a similar criterion for hiring. He simply asks if the person is someone he’d want to work with every day.
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Jim Collins’s Good to Great, in which he contends if there’s one thing you are passionate about –and that you can be best at –you should do just that one thing.
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But to achieve this they would have to say no to everything else.
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ask three questions: “What am I deeply passionate about?” and “What taps my talent?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?”
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We are looking for the one where we can make our absolutely highest point of contribution.

PART III: ELIMINATE
How Can We Cut Out the Trivial Many?

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Studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth, and thus find them more difficult to get rid of.
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ask the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?”
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“If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?”
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remember that anytime you fail to say “no” to a non-essential, you are really saying yes by default.
Chapter 10 CLARIFY (One Decision That Makes a Thousand)
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The first type of non-essential you’re going to learn how to eliminate is simply any activity that is misaligned with what you are intending to achieve.
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When there is a serious lack of clarity about what the team stands for and what their goals and roles are, people experience confusion, stress, and frustration.
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When there is a lack of clarity, people waste time and energy on the trivial many.
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two common patterns that typically emerge when teams lack clarity of purpose.
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PATTERN 1: PLAYING POLITICS
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when people don’t know what the end game is, they are unclear about how to win, and as a result they make up their own game and their own rules as they vie for the manager’s favour.
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We do a similar thing in our personal lives as well. When we are unclear about our real purpose in life –in other words, when we don’t have a clear sense of our goals, our aspirations, and our values –we make up our own social games. We waste time and energies on trying to look good in comparison to other people.
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PATTERN 2: IT’S ALL GOOD (WHICH IS BAD)
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teams without purpose become leaderless. With no clear direction, people pursue the things that advance their own short-term interests,
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how do we achieve clarity of purpose in our teams and even our personal endeavours?
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we can explore this using a two-by-two matrix.
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An essential intent, on the other hand, is both inspirational and concrete, both meaningful and measurable.
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STOP WORDSMITHING AND START DECIDING When developing statements of purpose
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there is a tendency to start obsessing about trivial stylistic details,
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Instead, ask the more essential question that will inform every future decision you will ever make: “If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?”
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Brad Pitt,
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New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,
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“Make It Right” with the essential intent “to build 150 affordable, green, storm-resistant homes for families living in the
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The concreteness of the objective made it real. The realness made it inspiring.
Chapter 11 DARE (The Power of a Graceful “No”)
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COURAGE IS GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. —Ernest Hemingway
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The right “no” spoken at the right time can change the course of history. In just one example of many, Rosa Parks’s quiet but resolute refusal to give up her seat
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Without courage, the disciplined pursuit of less is just lip service.
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see people who dare to live it is rare.
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We worry we’ll miss out on a great opportunity.
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we are unclear about what is essential. When this happens we become defenceless.
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On the other hand, when we have strong internal clarity it is almost as if we have a force field protecting us from the non-essentials coming at us from all directions.
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The fact is, we as humans are wired to want to get along with others.
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And while conforming to what people in a group expect of us
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is no longer a matter of life and death, the desire is still deeply ingrained in us. 7 This is why,
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the very thought of saying no literally brings us physical discomfort. We feel guilty.
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either we can say no and regret it for a few minutes, or we can say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, or even years.
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Peter Drucker believed that “people are effective because they say no.”
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Non-Essentialists say yes because of feelings of social awkwardness and pressure. They say yes automatically,
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how do we learn to say no gracefully?
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SEPARATE THE DECISION FROM THE RELATIONSHIP
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SAYING “NO” GRACEFULLY DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN USING THE WORD NO
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FOCUS ON THE TRADE-OFF
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REMIND YOURSELF THAT EVERYONE IS SELLING SOMETHING
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MAKE YOUR PEACE WITH THE FACT THAT SAYING “NO” OFTEN REQUIRES TRADING POPULARITY FOR RESPECT
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REMEMBER THAT A CLEAR “NO” CAN BE MORE GRACEFUL THAN A VAGUE OR NONCOMMITTAL “YES”
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The “No” Repertoire
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1. The awkward pause.
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When a request comes to you (obviously this works only in person), just pause for a moment.
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2. The soft “no” (or the “no but”).
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would love to get together once the book is finished.
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3. “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.”
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It gave her the time to pause and reflect and ultimately reply that she was regretfully unavailable.
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4. Use e-mail automatic replies.
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this is the most socially acceptable “no” there is.
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5. Say, “Yes. What should I deprioritise?”
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6. Say it with humour.
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7. Use the words “You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.”
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8. “I can’t do it, but X might be interested.”
Chapter 12 UNCOMMIT (Win Big by Cutting Your Losses)
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Concorde jet was a striking achievement in aeronautical engineering.
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Unfortunately, it was also an extraordinary financial failure.
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Why would intelligent, capable British and French government officials continue to invest
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very common psychological phenomenon called “sunk-cost bias.”
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Sunk-cost bias is the tendency to continue to invest time, money, or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred, or sunk, a cost that cannot be recouped.
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The more we invest in something, the harder it is to let go.
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Avoiding Commitment Traps
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nobody in the history of the world has washed their hire car! This is because of something called “the endowment effect,” our tendency to undervalue things that aren’t ours and to overvalue things because we already own them.
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here is a useful tip: PRETEND YOU DON’T OWN IT YET
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Instead of asking, “How much do I value this item?” we should ask, “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay to obtain it?”
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GET OVER THE FEAR OF WASTE
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“Abandoning a project that you’ve invested a lot in feels like you’ve wasted everything, and waste is something we’re told to avoid,” Arkes said.
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INSTEAD, ADMIT FAILURE TO BEGIN SUCCESS
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Only when we admit we have made a mistake in committing to something can we make a mistake a part of our past.
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 150/1630
STOP TRYING TO FORCE A FIT
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 151/1636
we often act
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 151/1636
trying too hard to be something we’re not.
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 151/1637
The solution? GET A NEUTRAL SECOND OPINION
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 151/1639
Someone who is not emotionally involved in the situation and unaffected by the choice we make can give us the permission to stop forcing something that is clearly not working out.
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 151/1646
The tendency to continue doing something simply because we have always done it is sometimes called the “status quo bias.”
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 152/1651
APPLY ZERO-BASED BUDGETING
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 152/1656
Instead of trying to budget your time on the basis of existing commitments, assume that all bets are off. All previous commitments are gone. Then begin from scratch, asking which you would add today.
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 153/1665
Before the words “That sounds great, I’d love to” fly out of your mouth, ask yourself, “Is this essential?”
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 153/1668
GET OVER THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 153/1670
TO FIGHT THIS FEAR, RUN A REVERSE PILOT
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 153/1674
In a reverse pilot you test whether removing an initiative or activity will have any negative consequences.
12. UNCOMMIT: Win Big by Cutting Your Losses > 154/1680
Are there commitments you routinely make to customers, colleagues, friends or even family members that you have always assumed made a big difference to them but that in fact they might barely notice? By quietly eliminating or at least scaling back an activity for a few days or weeks you might be able to assess whether it is really making a difference or whether no one really cares.
Chapter 13 EDIT (The Invisible Art)
13. EDIT: The Invisible Art > 155/1693
Since 1981 not a single film has won Best Picture without at least being nominated for Film Editing.
13. EDIT: The Invisible Art > 156/1703
a good film editor makes it hard not to see what’s important because she eliminates everything but the elements that absolutely need to be there.
13. EDIT: The Invisible Art > 157/1715
good editor is someone who uses deliberate subtraction to actually add life to the ideas, setting, plot, and characters.
13. EDIT: The Invisible Art > 157/1724
You must, as Stephen King has said, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
13. EDIT: The Invisible Art > 159/1737
The Latin root of the word decision –cis or cid –literally means “to cut” or “to kill.”
13. EDIT: The Invisible Art > 159/1743
Stephen King has written, “To write is human, to edit is divine.”
Chapter 14 LIMIT (The Freedom of Setting Boundaries)
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 163/1782
NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. —Anne Lamott
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 164/1799
The disappearance of boundaries is typical of our non-Essentialist era.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 164/1800
technology has completely blurred the lines between work and family.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 165/1804
the boundary of work has edged insidiously into family territory.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 165/1814
Clay recalls: “That taught me an important lesson. If I had made an exception then I might have made it many times.”
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 165/1815
The second we let one fall over, the rest of them come crashing down.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 166/1820
if you don’t set boundaries –there won’t be any.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 166/1825
boundaries protect their time from being hijacked and often free them from the burden of having to say no to things that further others’ objectives instead of their own.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 167/1840
several guidelines for
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 168/1841
DON’T ROB PEOPLE OF THEIR PROBLEMS
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 168/1842
when people make their problem our problem, we aren’t helping them;
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 169/1858
forcing these people to solve their own problems is equally beneficial for you and for them.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 170/1869
Make a list of your dealbreakers –the types of requests or activities from that person that you simply refuse to say yes to unless they somehow overlap with your own priorities or agenda.
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 170/1874
CRAFT SOCIAL CONTRACTS
14. LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries > 170/1879
Simply having an understanding up front about what we were really trying to achieve and what our boundaries

PART IV: EXECUTE
How Can We Make Doing The Vital Few Things Almost Effortless?

Chapter 15 BUFFER (The Unfair Advantage)
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 175/1900
GIVE ME SIX HOURS TO CHOP DOWN A TREE AND I WILL SPEND THE FIRST FOUR SHARPENING THE AXE. —Attributed to Abraham Lincoln
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 176/1911
we live in an unpredictable world.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 176/1912
we face the unexpected constantly.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 176/1915
Therefore, we can either wait for the moment and react to it or we can prepare. We can create a buffer.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 176/1916
A “buffer” can be defined literally as something that prevents two things from coming into contact and harming each other.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 177/1930
gases expand to fill the space they are in; similarly, we’ve all experienced how projects and commitments tend to expand
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 177/1931
to fill the amount of time allotted to them.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 177/1932
fit too many slides into too little time?
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 178/1946
The non-Essentialist tends to always assume a best-case scenario.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 178/1947
chronically underestimate how long something will really take: “This will just take five minutes,”
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 179/1953
The way of the Essentialist is different. The Essentialist looks ahead. She plans. She prepares for different contingencies. She expects the unexpected. She creates a buffer to prepare for the unforeseen,
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 180/1964
use the good times to create a buffer for the bad.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 181/1987
why some companies have thrived under extreme and difficult circumstances while others have not.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 181/1989
they were the ones who acknowledged they could not predict the unexpected and therefore prepared better.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 181/1990
ADD 50 PER CENT TO YOUR TIME ESTIMATE
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 182/1998
Have you ever underestimated how long a task will take?
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 182/1999
The term for this very common phenomenon is the “planning fallacy.” 6 This term, coined by Daniel Kahneman in 1979, refers to people’s tendency to underestimate how long a task will take, even when they have actually done the task before.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 182/2007
Of the variety of explanations for why we underestimate the amount of time something will take, I believe social pressure is the most interesting.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 183/2009
we actually know we can’t do things in a given time frame, but we don’t want to admit it to someone.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 183/2012
One way to protect against this is simply to add a 50 per cent buffer to the amount of time we estimate it will take to complete a task or project
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 183/2018
CONDUCT SCENARIO PLANNING
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 183/2020
develop a risk management strategy.
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 184/2027
ask the following five questions:
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 184/2027
(1) What risks do you face on this project?
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 184/2027
(2) What is the worst-case scenario?
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 184/2027
(3) What would the social effects of this be?
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 184/2028
(4) What would the financial impact of this be?
15. BUFFER: The Unfair Advantage > 184/2028
(5) How can you invest to reduce risks or strengthen financial or social resilience?
Chapter 16 SUBTRACT (Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles)
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 185/2035
TO ATTAIN KNOWLEDGE ADD THINGS EVERY DAY. TO ATTAIN WISDOM SUBTRACT THINGS EVERY DAY. —Lao-tzu
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 186/2057
Instead of trying to improve every aspect of the facility he needs to identify
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 187/2058
the part of the process that is slower relative to every other part of the plant.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 187/2061
What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you?
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 187/2065
if you really want to improve the overall functioning of the system
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 187/2066
you need to identify the “slowest hiker.”
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 187/2071
Instead of looking for the most obvious or immediate obstacles, they look for the ones slowing down progress.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 188/2078
Produce More by Removing More
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 188/2079
Aristotle talked about three kinds of work,
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 188/2079
The first is theoretical work, for which the end goal is truth.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 188/2080
The second is practical work, where the objective is action.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 188/2080
third: it is poietical work.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2088
the Essentialist focuses on the constraints or obstacles we need to remove.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2088
But how?
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2088
1. BE CLEAR ABOUT THE ESSENTIAL INTENT
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2090
what we’re really trying to achieve,
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2092
2. IDENTIFY THE “SLOWEST HIKER”
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2094
“What are all the obstacles standing between me and getting this done?”
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 190/2099
Anything slowing down the execution of that goal should be questioned.
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 191/2104
3. REMOVE THE OBSTACLE
16. SUBTRACT: Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles > 191/2106
replace the idea “This has to be perfect or else” with “Done is better than perfect.”
Chapter 17 PROGRESS (The Power of Small Wins)
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 193/2127
police department in Richmond, Canada,
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 194/2136
the novel idea for Positive Tickets, a programme whereby police, instead of focusing on catching young people perpetrating crimes, would focus on catching youth doing something good
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 194/2139
and would give them a ticket for positive behaviour.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 194/2143
the Positive Tickets system had reduced recidivism from 60 per cent to 8 per cent.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 196/2166
a small, concrete win creates momentum and affirms our faith in our further success.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 196/2168
the two primary internal motivators for people are achievement and recognition for achievement.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 197/2177
the best place to look is for small changes we could make in the things we do often.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 198/2193
My wife Anna and I
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 198/2194
had become concerned with how much screen time had crept into our family.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 198/2198
So we introduced a token system.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 198/2198
The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week. These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week,
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2200
If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token,
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2201
The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90 per cent, reading went up by the same amount,
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2202
non-essential activity dramatically decreased and essential activity dramatically increased.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2204
We can all create systems like this
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2205
Here are a few techniques.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2205
FOCUS ON MINIMAL VIABLE PROGRESS
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 199/2210
We can ask ourselves, “What is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the essential task we are trying to get done?”
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 200/2220
DO THE MINIMAL VIABLE PREPARATION
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 200/2221
You can start early and small or start late and big.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 200/2221
“Late and big” means doing it all at the last minute:
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 200/2222
“Early and small” means starting at the earliest possible moment with the minimal possible time investment.
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 202/2231
VISUALLY REWARD PROGRESS
17. PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins > 202/2235
There is something powerful about visibly seeing progress towards a goal.
Chapter 18 FLOW (The Genius of Routine)
18. FLOW: The Genius of Routine > 205/2272
The Essentialist designs a routine that makes achieving what you have identified as essential to the default position.
18. FLOW: The Genius of Routine > 207/2290
With repetition the routine is mastered and the activity becomes second nature.
18. FLOW: The Genius of Routine > 207/2291
Our ability to execute the essential improves with practice,
18. FLOW: The Genius of Routine > 209/2318
According to researchers at Duke University in North Carolina, nearly 40 per cent of our choices are deeply unconscious.
18. FLOW: The Genius of Routine > 211/2358
“Focus on the hardest thing first.”
18. FLOW: The Genius of Routine > 214/2372
start with one change in your daily or weekly routine and then build on your progress from there.
Chapter 19 FOCUS What’s Important Now?
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 216/2397
to operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2403
every second spent worrying about a past or future moment distracts us from what is important in the here and now.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2404
The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first was chronos. The second was kairos.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2404
Chronos
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2405
the chronological time, the kind we measure (and
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2406
Kairos
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2406
refers to time that is opportune, right, different.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 217/2407
Chronos is quantitative; kairos is qualitative.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 219/2434
Multi-tasking Versus Multi-focusing
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 220/2446
we can easily do two things at the same time:
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 220/2448
What we can’t do is concentrate on two things at the same time.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 220/2449
Multi-tasking itself is not the enemy of Essentialism; pretending we can “multi-focus” is.
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 220/2450
How to Be in the Now
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 220/2452
FIGURE OUT WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 221/2466
Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is most important this very second
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 222/2476
The Pause That Refreshes
19. FOCUS: What’s Important Now? > 224/2481
“the pause that refreshes.” This technique is easy. He stops for just a moment. He closes his eyes. He breathes in and out once: deeply and slowly.
Chapter 20 BE (The Essentialist Life)
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 226/2517
There are two ways of thinking about Essentialism. The first is to think of it as something you do occasionally. The second is to think of it as something you are.
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 231/2558
As these ideas become emotionally true, they take on the power to change you.
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 231/2561
Once the essence of Essentialism enters our hearts, the way of the Essentialist becomes who we are. We become a different, better version of ourselves.
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 234/2589
focusing on the essentials is a choice. It is your choice. That in itself is incredibly liberating.
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 235/2602
Becoming an Essentialist is a long process, but the benefits are endless. Here are some
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 235/2604
MORE CLARITY
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 235/2609
MORE CONTROL
20. BE: The Essentialist Life > 235/2612
MORE JOY IN THE JOURNEY