Sunday, October 8, 2017

Kruse's Keys: Read 'Essentialism' Because Less CAN Be Better (Greg McKeown)

I listened to this one as an audio book that I checked out from my local public library (SIDE NOTE: public libraries--one of America’s great treasures).  One one hand I loved the convenience of listening to this tale during my daily commute into DC; on the other hand, audibooks are the worst format if you are a notetaker and chronic highlighter.  So, really the worst format for me, especially considering the fact that you lose access to the book and any quasi bookmarks you made when you check the “book” back into the library.  

All that to say that my audiobook reviews are sure to be much less robust than those I actually read.  

Essentialism is a book for anyone who feels overwhelmed at any level of their life.  The author’s contention is that we all have too much going on in our lives--at work, at play, in our relationships and in our things.  This book gives the reader the tools and philosophical background in order to pare away the excess.  Ultimately, McKeown espouses the expansion of German designer and academic Dieter Ram’s mantra “less but better” (weniger aber besser) into one’s life at every level.  Whether or not one has the courage to actually apply it holistically is another question but I’d argue that we’d all do well to take stock of our lives and see where doing less but better might liberate us.  

  • “LESS BUT BETTER” This is the central point of Essentialism.  Shedding off burdensome layers of your life at all levels (time, mental, physical, etc.) so that you can be and do better by concentrating on what is actually important.
  • Just saying “no” (without a qualifier or reason) is okay.  You don’t owe anyone a reason.  
  • Focus on where you can contribute most and cut away everything else ruthlessly.
  • This book pairs well with the seminal Deep Work by Cal Newport (my review is here).

  • Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
  • “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.”
  • “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.
  • “Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.”
  • “the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?”
  • “As John Maxwell has written, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

Dieter Rams 10 Commandments of Good Design

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