Book review: Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Book cover for Essentialism by Greg McKeown

While getting my MBA, a professor told us that we should get our news from multiple sources. Why? Because each editor has an opinion, a story they want to tell, a way of interpreting the facts and presenting them.

I can apply the same argument to books, particularly personal development books. I’ve read enough books in this genre to recognize that many of the books cover the same concepts. However, each author has their own way of interpreting, presenting, and applying them. The way one author presents a topic can resonate much better with me than the way another author presents it.

Where am I going with this?

It applies to one of my latest reads, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. According to McKeown, essentialism is the practice of focusing on and doing fewer things to make progress on what matters most. Since I’ve recently read Eat That Frog!, Getting Things Done, and the 80/20 Principle, Essentialism seems like it would be more of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol – get organized, de-clutter, prioritize, focus, achieve results.

While saying the same thing, McKeown’s work is actually somewhat different. Similar to getting your news from different sources, getting another author’s take on the same topic was worth the time investment.

When comparing Essentialism to the 3 books I mentioned, it has more substance than Eat That Frog. It doesn’t go quite as far down into the weeds as Getting Things Done, which is a great book for getting your life in order. It’s closest to the 80/20 Principle. Of these two books, I like Essentialism much better.

Essentialism is more or less a rehash of the Pareto Principle, also known as the Law of the Vital Few. McKeown, though, stays away from the buzz words, simplifies it, and explains things in layman’s terms. He does one of the best jobs I’ve seen of explaining the concepts behind the principle and how to integrate it into your daily habits. He even goes into specific situations and provides recommendations on how to handle them to stay focused. Bottom line, Essentialism is more practical and applicable than many similar books I’ve read on the subject.

I would categorize Essentialism as a Must Read and one of my foundation books in personal development. I’ve read enough books now around the topic that I plan to put together a write-up that covers all the key books in one post. Instead of reading each of the books randomly, I believe there is an order these should be read in to get the most out of them. In other words, on their own, the books are great. Read together, they are powerful.

Stay tuned….