Essentialism: How to Achieve More by Doing Less

Jan 29, 2024

This week’s theme is all about essentialism. So what is essentialism?

Essentialism is learning how to focus on the things that really matter. We live in a world that bombards us with so many choices and opportunities. So much so, that it is easy to become fatigued from all the decisions we have to make. 

This week, we are going to share some tips on how to distinguish what truly matters — the essential! We're also going to learn how to eliminate the non-essential. 

To start, here's a quote by Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, that resonates with me:

"Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it's about how to get the right things done. It doesn't mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy by doing only what is essential."

Getting Started with Essentialism: Explore and Evaluate

The first thing to consider when you figuring out what is essential is to explore and evaluate.

Deliberately consider your options so that you are certain you are making the right decision for you. So instead of taking on tasks simply because someone asked you to do it and you feel like you have to say yes… ask yourself, will this task make the highest possible contribution to my goals? 

Take time to evaluate opportunities and commitments against your essential intents, and your own personal and professional goals. 

Here are three useful phrases to help focus your mindset on what is essential to you: 

  • “I choose to _______.”

  • “Only a few things really matter: _______, _______, and _______”

  • “I can do anything, but not everything.”

Going Further: Eliminating the Non-Essentials

Life is not always as simple as: this choice will bring me closer to my goals, and that choice won’t. There is always a lot of gray area. 

Sometimes we find ourselves getting pulled into the gray area because we want to please friends, our family, and our colleagues. If this happens, ask yourself, do I actually want to do this? Does this align with my real priorities?

Remember, the more things in your life that you leave in the gray area, the less focus you will end up giving to your more meaningful, essential priorities. 

This is where we introduce the word no!

It takes courage to say no, but if something doesn’t align with your priorities and what is essential to you, I want you to remember that declining it is not a rejection! It is a choice to protect your time and energy.

Putting it into Practice: How to Amplify the Essential

Our theme this week is about getting clear about what is essential. So once you have decided what you want to invest your time and energy in, how do you execute it? 

One way to do this is to simplify your daily choices by reducing decision fatigue. Create a system that makes the process of executing your goals more efficient. Think of areas in your life that require a lot of decision-making from you and find ways to streamline them. 

A few examples include:

🧑‍🍳 Meal prep: Minimize daily decisions about what you are going to eat

👚 Clothing: Choose your outfits the night before or for the week  

☀️ Set a consistent morning routine: Reduce decisions about what to do after waking up

🔕 Limit notifications: Turn off non-essential notifications to minimize interruptions 

💳 Money: Automate bill payments

🌙 Decision-free evenings: Reserve certain evenings for free-form relaxation without making decisions about social plans or activities

Final Thoughts on Essentialism

I would like to close out this week’s theme by reminding you that in a world that is saturated with so many distractions and choices, essentialism — or focusing on what really matters to us — provides an opportunity for clarity, purpose, and fulfillment.

With that being said, life is dynamic and priorities shift! It’s important to regularly reflect on what is working for you, and what can be improved. Allow yourself moments of stillness to reflect on what really matters. These moments of stillness can even help enhance your ability to make thoughtful, intentional decisions.

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great week ahead!

— Suliel