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Essentialism

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Written by: Greg McKeown
Narrated by: Greg McKeown
Length: 6 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (471 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, April 2014 - At times we all feel the pressure to take on more than we can handle – to pack our schedules full and be all things to all people. We may think we’re doing the right thing, but as Greg McKeown lays out in his new book, ultimately this behavior leads us to feel stressed out, overworked, and under-satisfied. Essentialism is a call to arms to stop the craziness and apply a structured discipline that will help to identify and foster what matters. By cutting out the nonessential, we can in-turn achieve productivity, fulfillment, and success.

Publisher's Summary

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Are you often busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist. The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy - instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us. Essentialism is not one more thing - it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

©2014 Greg McKeown (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Do you feel it, too? That relentless pressure to sample all the good things in life? To do all the 'right' things? The reality is, you don’t make progress that way. Instead, you’re in danger of spreading your efforts so thin that you make no impact at all. Greg McKeown believes the answer lies in paring life down to its essentials. He can’t tell you what’s essential to every life, but he can help you find the meaning in yours.”
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE
 

“Entrepreneurs succeed when they say "yes" to the right project, at the right time, in the right way. To accomplish this, they have to be good at saying "no" to all their other ideas. Essentialism offers concise and eloquent advice on how to determine what you care about most, and how to apply your energies in ways that ultimately bring you the greatest rewards.”
-- Reid Hoffman, co-founder/chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestseller “The Start-up of You”
 

Essentialism holds the keys to solving one of the great puzzles of life: how can we do less but accomplish more? A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked—in other words, everyone. It has already changed the way that I think about my own priorities, and if more leaders embraced this philosophy, our jobs and our lives would be less stressful and more productive. So drop what you’re doing and read it..”
~Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
 

“As a self-proclaimed "maximalist" who always wants to do it all, this book challenged me and improved my life. If you want to work better, not just  less, you should read it too.” 
- Chris Guillebeau, NYT bestselling author of The $100 Startup
 

"Great design takes us beyond the complex, the unnecessary and confusing, to the simple, clear and meaningful. This is as true for the design of a life as it is for the design of a product. With Essentialism, Greg McKeown gives us the invaluable guidebook for just such a project." 
-Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
 

  "In Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes a compelling case for achieving more by doing less. He reminds us that clarity of focus and the ability to say ‘no’ are both critical and undervalued in business today."
-Jeff Weiner, ‎CEO, LinkedIn
 

From the Hardcover edition.

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What listeners say about Essentialism

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Bleh

I would have finished the book if the narration wasn't so bad. I guess I'm just going to read the summary of the book. Also, this book is very répétitive.

4 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking.

Nicely thought provoking. Inspired me to do more with less and to W.I.N.; what's important now. Thanks, Greg.

3 people found this helpful

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A wordy definition of "questionable cause"

While I really liked the core concepts outlined in this book, I absolutely hated the way they were delivered. As other reviewers pointed out, this book is so painfully repetitive, that it's name starts to feel ironic after a while. In fact, you can probably just skip to Chapter 20 and still get all the main points, without having to listen to hours of unnecessary name-dropping and logical fallacies. The author tries to pigeonhole so many famous success stories into his obsession with making the term "essentialist" happen, that this book should be featured on the Wikipedia entry for "questionable cause". Do less but better, and go listen to a Mark Manson book instead.

2 people found this helpful

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Good points but written for 1-dimensional audience

Overall good and inspiring. However, some advice sounds a bit like a promotion of selfishness, which can only get society so far until everyone takes that advice and no "least favorite jobs" get done. This seems possible only for a certain demographic and ignores people of other walks of life. Additionally, the people picked as positive examples of essentialism often lacked in diversity, making this very centered around the privileged start-up ceo stereotype. Could have been more enjoyable if a broader audience were kept in mind. I'm a PhD candidate in STEM and found very little application of this advice relevant to my own career.

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Required Reading for Aspiring Minimalists

It's rare that an author does such a good job of reading their own work. This was a very enjoyable listen and I expect will hold up to repeat listens. The message is timely and useful for everyone and anyone: in an age when our attention is taken up with the constant noise of social media and our smart phones' message alerts, it is imperative to get clear on what's important. This book will help you focus, not only in your career but also in your personal life, on what's essential so that you can stop wasting your time and energy on the unimportant.

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Really you won't regret it, essentially essential,

Really you won't regret it, essentially essential, deep, practical, love
And I'll read it again

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Just read it

This book has so many good advice an quotes. Just read it I’m sure you will learn something very useful for you

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one of the best audiobooks

this book really land with me I loved everything about it narration pacing the content.

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Truly An "Essential" Read

Greg McKeown makes incredibly clear the value in (and dire need to) focus on what is truly important.

This book provides many perspectives through which to see the ways we conduct our lives, capturing beautifully the relationship between inner peace and prioritization. The many personal stories and metaphors really help to understand these concepts in action, and I've come away feeling like I've really learned something from this book, an in particular find myself asking a few of the key questions from his book when facing real situations in my life.

This book goes into my list of must-reads for all humans.



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Life changing

If you ever struggled with people's expectations or the ability to say no, read this !!!!! this book has made me a better decision-maker.

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  • Brian Smith
  • 2014-11-28

Great Message, Redundant At Times

Greg does a great job of narrating, but a good editor could have trimmed a fourth from this read.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2014-04-27

Multiple reads required

The book is well written, information dense, and well read. It is a must for business or personal improvement! It will require multiple reads to get as much information and might be worth a kindle/audible combo to write notes for later references.

60 people found this helpful

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  • SJ
  • 2018-11-11

Maybe my expectations were too high

Maybe my expectations were too high but I was a bit disappointed by this book. It felt like it was written over a weekend rather than something that was the result of years of deep thinking. I wish all the best for the author and Anna, his wife, since I feel like I've gotten to know them well. Maybe that's part of the problem. It feels more like a autobiography than anything else. It feels like the author has a lot that he wants to get off his chest but he didn't think long enough about what the reader needed from a book like this.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Texas Reader
  • 2017-07-13

Essential lessons for success

If you don't set your priorities, someone else will.
If you don't maintain your boundaries, nobody will.
If you don't chart your own course and stick to it, someone else will.
You can accomplish much more, by doing less.
This book is full of outstanding advice.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Molly Helm
  • 2014-06-08

Paring Down...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I selected this book because it came up as a suggestion and LOVED it. Having the author read it made it especially enjoyable, as his passion for the topic of distilling life to the very best part comes through in his advice, his stories, his applicable tips. As I drive from client to client, appointment to appointment and commitment to commitment, this books struck a chord. I have suggested it to at least 10 people and suggest it to YOU as well.

What did you learn from Essentialism that you would use in your daily life?

If something isn't "hell yes" then it's a "no."

This book is definitely a "hell yes." Read it.

60 people found this helpful

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  • A. Yoshida
  • 2017-10-05

Less But Better

The book can be summed up in the phrase "less but better." It provides guidance on pruning the trivial many to focus on the vital few. If you want to be an Essentialist (quality over quantity), you must be vigilant in saying "yes" to only those things and activities you love. Otherwise, you'll spread yourself too thin and be mediocre in many things. You won't be making any significant progress in the few things you truly want... you won't be living a meaningful and purposeful life.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2014-05-03

Life Changer

What made the experience of listening to Essentialism the most enjoyable?

Already listening to this book AGAIN. Greg McKeown provides the reader/listener with perception changing insights into how to manage and succeed just by keeping in mind the most important things in life.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

9 people found this helpful

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  • Errol B.
  • 2014-07-28

Less, but better! Words to live by....

Would you listen to Essentialism again? Why?

I am on my second listening of this book. There is a lot of wisdom in these chapters. Much of the insight of the book are not new, but the presentation of the material and examples of how to incorporate these concepts into your business and life decisions makes it a worthwhile read/listen. I expect I will listen to this book many more times.

What does Greg McKeown bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Greg's reading of the book was pleasant and well paced. Many times the presenter of these types of books are very dry, despite the interesting nature of the material.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The last book I read 2x in a row was the "5th Discipline" by Peter Senge back in 1994. Like Essentialism, that book helped give me a language to articulate what I had been thinking and a framework for thinking through problems and making decisions.

Any additional comments?

Read/Listen to this book!

17 people found this helpful

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  • Jason Comely
  • 2014-05-22

Call me an "Essentialist"

The message of 'less is better' isn't new to me, but there are fresh insights here. Greg McKeown also does a fantastic job narrating his own book.

If life feels cluttered and stressed, Essentialism is the (audio)book to get.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 2014-08-30

Great book for those looking to simplify

Do less, but better.

Okay I wanted to be simple, but I should expand. This book is essential for those of us who are overwhelmed by tasks. You'll hear why essentialism is important, how to decide was is essential, and what is not. Then it talks about how to apply it: how to stay focused, how to say no, and how to help those around you focus on what is important as well.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-07-25

An Essential book to read/listen to

Going trough the book I felt like it was written specifically for me! I took action immediately and got out of yet another project I was getting into right away! Thanks for this insightful book!

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  • Sandra
  • 2017-02-15

Comment devenir plus efficace et plus productif

Ce livre vous permettra de découvrir la philosophie de l'essentialisme. Comment se concentrer sur l'instant présent. Comment envisager une meilleure utilisation de notre temps pour réaliser les tâches dans lesquelles nous sommes les plus efficaces. A lire si vous souhaitez impulser une modifications de votre routine quotidienne.