Essentialism. Greg McKeown. Virgin Books. €14.99

It is no so much about getting more done in less time, as getting the right things done

Mon, May 19, 2014, 01:00


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Greg McKeown

Virgin Books

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Essentialism, says Greg McKeown, is about disciplining your way of thinking. It is not so much about getting more done in less time, as getting the right things done. That involves identifying what is essential, eliminating the rest and then doing those things with as little effort as possible.

Part of the disease of modern life is that we have too much choice. Another problem is that the number of outside influences on our decisions has increased.

Technology enables others to share their opinions as to what we should focus on so we suffer from information overload and opinion overload.

McKeown extols the virtues of downtime and contrasts the experience of leaders who spend endless hours in back-to-back meetings with those who take time out. Chief executive of LinkedIn Jeff Weiner schedules up to two hours of blank space on his calendar every day that he divides into 30-minute periods. At first, he viewed this as an indulgence but in time he came to view it as his best productivity tool. At this pace he can think about questions such as where he wants the company to be in five years’ time.

Among the other powerful tools McKeown emphasises is the power of routine and he quotes scientific evidence to show that routine enables difficult things to become easy.