September 04, 2015 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
If you are a working person and are fortunate enough to have this Labor Day weekend off, you will probably enjoy the experience of doing less this three day weekend. No doubt it is wonderful to do less over a long weekend, but the author of a new book says that real joy and real productivity is found by learning to do less on a daily, long-term basis.
Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less has written a thoughtful book for busy people. The following questions from a promotional web page for this book, reveal the audience this book is written for.
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?
This is not another book about organizing our time, our money, or our stuff. It is instead a book about organizing our priorities, about deciding what in our life is essential. According to McKewon, organizing our priorities requires us to focus our energy on determining what is most essential to us and doing only those things. The following two lines from the book help make this point.
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”
“Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. “
I don't know about you, but I am prone to saying “yes” to too many activities, making commitments and then finding it hard to do all of them well. I have had a habit of doing this in both my professional and personal life and so this book really spoke to me. Since reading this book six months ago I am delighted to report that I have been practicing essentialism and am getting much better at saying “yes” to the things that matter most in my life. I am also finding that I have renewed energy and am more fully present for the things I do commit to do.
McKeown does not talk directly about spirituality in his book “Essentialism” and yet I found this book to be spiritual through and through. Clarifying one’s most important values and priorities and then developing a disciplined set of life habits that reflect those most essential values and priorities is at the core of what it means to live a spiritual life.
Of course, the easiest part of reading any self-help book is just that, reading it. The hard part always lies in the disciplined application of the important truths that the book contains. I do appreciate the fact that the subtitle of McKeown’s book is “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” He is well aware that reading his book will make little difference if it does not lead to disciplined action by its readers.
If your Labor Day weekend plans include plenty of time to rest, you will be happy to know that McKewon has a chapter in his book as well about the essential nature of rest. And if your weekend plans include reading, I highly recommend this book.
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