notes blog about

Core ideas behind essentialism:

1) We can choose how to spend our energy and time.

2) Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. That’s why we have to take time to figure out what is most important.

3) We can’t have it all or do it all. We need to accept the reality of trade-offs and stop asking “How can I make it all work?”. Start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?”.

Consider you want to solve the problem of a cluttered wardrobe. The steps:

1) Explore - discern the vital few from the trivial many

Instead of asking, “Is there a chance I will wear this someday?” you ask more disciplined questions: “Do I love this?” and “Do I look great in it?” If the answer is no, it’s candidate for elimination.

Equivalent question for your personal or professional life: “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?”

Essentialists will commit and “go big” on only few vital ideas or activities, they explore more options at first to ensure they pick the right one later. For this we need:

Often these things are at best considered nice to have, at worst they are derided as evidence of weakness and wastefulness. “Of course, I’d love to be able to set aside time on the calendar simply to think, but it’s a luxury we can’t afford right now.”

2) Eliminate

Are you really ready to stuff the “probably should get rid of” pile in a bag and send it off? You will probably feel the sunk-cost bias hitting you.

In other words, it’s not enough to simply determine which activities and efforts don’t make the highest possible contribution; you still have to actively eliminate them.

3) Execute

If you want your wardrobe stay tidy, you need a regular routine for organising it. You need one large bag for items you need to throw away and a very small pile for items you want to keep. You need to know the drop-off location and hours of your local charity shop. You need to have a scheduled time to go there.

In other words, you need a system to make executing your intentions as effortless as possible.

Source: Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (2014)