Essentialism Book Summary I Less and Better

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Book – Essentialism, The disciplined pursuit of less (Summary)

Author – Greg Mckeown

Genre – Self – help

Published – 2014

We are leaving in a time when we are bombarded with choices. Considering our attention is our biggest asset, it is important to consider what we focus on and that’s exactly what Greg empowers readers with his simple-to-follow strategies to become essentialists.

About the Author

Greg Mckeown Photo
Image Credit – Wikipedia

Greg Mckeown is an author, public speaker, leadership, and business strategist. He is best known for his best-selling book Essentialism. He is the founder and CEO of McKeown, Inc., a leadership and strategy design agency based in California.

About The Book

Greg explains the concept of essentialism in four parts Essence – Explore – Eliminate – Execute.

Excerpts From Each Part


  • In essence Greg explains the difference between essentialist and non-essentialist. How both thinks like I have to v/s I choose to. Acts like saying yes without thinking v/s saying no to everything except the essential. Being unsure of whether the right things are getting done v/s getting the right things done, Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted v/s experiencing joy in the journey.
  • He further explains non-essentialism prevails everywhere because of too many choices, too much social pressure and Idea of we can have it all. And as much as we’d like to, we simply cannot have it all. Economist Thomas Sowell wrote: “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”
  • A non-essentialist thinks almost everything is essential, while essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential.


Essentialists actually explore more options before committing, as they go big on only a vital few ideas. Few ideas for exploring more –

  • Escape to think. Non-essentialist is too busy doing to think about life, while Essentialist escape and explore life.
  • Looking for what is essential in information, listening to what is not being said.
  • Taking out time for Play. Non-essentialist thinks play is an unproductive waste of time, while essentialist knows play sparks exploration.
  • Sleep has been recognized as one of the most important factor for productivity in many researches. Essentialist understands that and keep sleep on priority.


Exploring more options enables Essentialist to eliminate trivial many. Using the Wardrobe metaphor Greg explains it well of the elimination process. Few ideas for eliminating trivial many –

  • Clarify – There is difference between pretty clear and really clear. When we have clear idea of goal, it becomes simple and inspiring to work on it and staying inspired throughout the process for we can see progress.
  • Powerful No – Many of our problem comes from saying yes too early and not saying No soon enough. We should say No if we are not convinced with proposal.
  • Uncommit – we can also back out from things we have committed to without knowing what it will entail with  apologizing sincerely.
  • Limit – We must learn to set boundaries be it in personal or professional life. If, we are not careful of what we allow we can be soon have lot more in our plate than we can handle.


Once we eliminate trivial many we have more time of planning and executing on our goals. Few ideas for effortless execution –

  • Buffer – Essentialist always keeps buffer for execution for unexpected events. Buffer also help in avoiding end minute rush, which always affect the quality of work.
  • Subtract – Essentialist bring forth more by removing more instead of doing more, while non-essentialist is busy on quick fix solutions and doing more.
  • Progress – Essentialist start small and gets big results and celebrate small acts of progress. They believe done is better than perfect.
  • Flow – Essentialist design routine that revolve around what is essential, which makes execution almost effortless. W. H. Auden said “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition”. The power of routine has been explained with many real life examples.
  • Focus – There is only so much time we all have and given this fact we can only focus on handful activities for maximum impact. Essentialist understands this and stays in present and tunes in to what is important right now, which usually connected to bigger goal.
  • Loved the line about multi-tasking – Multi-tasking itself is not the enemy of essentialism; pretending we can multi-focus is”.

I have also created a video of a few quotes from the book – Hope you like it. Please do subscribe to my Youtube channel – Myread4change


What you can expect after reading this book and implementing suggestions in it is more clarity, lesser things to do with more impact, more progress, and fulfilling life.

As Dalai Lama said, “if one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness”.

You may download the e-book for free here.

You may consider reading the book on a similar line The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan to help you narrow down your focus and act on what is essential.

Please share your suggestion/feedback on this summary or any questions about it and I will be glad to answer them.

Wish you a disciplined life of pursuing less but better.


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