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Published on April 20, 2020

What is Essentialism and How You Can Benefit from It

What is Essentialism and How You Can Benefit from It

In our ever distracting world overloaded with information, there has been an increasing interest in minimalism – “less is more” and Marie Kondo’s house clearing.

People have become exhausted with the availability of things, consumer products, life choices, and demands. It is never-ending, and it is no surprise that many people are turning to simpler ways of living.

Essentialism has some similarities with minimalism, but these two concepts are very different.

What Is Essentialism?

In 2014, Greg McKeown published the best selling book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, and he has been teaching individuals, corporations and world leaders about the art of essentialism ever since.

Greg defines essentialism as:

Less but better.

Essentialism is a way of life that helps you navigate a distracting world by focusing on things that are important to you. Essentialism is not minimalism where you reduce your material possessions to the minimum

Essentialism is a mindset for deciding whether something is important to you or not. If something is not important, you eliminate it.

So how can you benefit from essentialism and live a simpler, more essential way of life?

Learn to Say “No” More

One of the many reasons we feel stressed out and overwhelmed is because we say yes to far too many things.

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Saying “yes” is easier than saying “no”, but it leaves you in the difficult position of having to carry through on a commitment you might not have wanted in the first place.

It is important to think carefully about your decisions first.

It is far better to say “let me get back to you” first than to say “yes” immediately and regret it later. Because then, you will have to either carry through with the commitment halfheartedly or waste a lot of time and effort trying to get out of the commitment later.

Of course, there will always be things you may not want to do but have to do: your taxes, doing the dishes, and going to the dentist. But a lot of our commitments and invitations are choices, not obligations. you can turn them down if you want to.

Focus on Your Priority

Notice that I did not use the word “priorities”. This is a mistake many people make. They have many “priorities” but not a single “priority”.

The key to living an essential life is understanding what your priority is.

Is it your family? Your career? Your hobby? What is it?

Most people never discover what it is they are most interested in and instead go from one interest to another. This leads to them never experiencing the joy of creating something special around something they have built for themselves.

You will know your true priority once you know what you want out of life.

For me, my priority is to help as many people as I can by helping them discover the benefits of organization and productivity. Because I identified this as my priority, I can make better decisions about what I want to do with my day. It also makes it easier to say no to the things that do not interest me.

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If I am asked to commit to something and it does not contribute towards this priority, then it is easy for me to say no.

You Are in Control of Your Day

Because essentialism reduces your commitments to only the essential, it puts you in control of your day.

Most people do not know what they want, and this unwittingly allows other people to take control of their day. For example, you may have friends and family telling you where to be and with whom, or bosses and colleagues requesting you do this or do that.

It all leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled.

When you know what is important to you and you focus on only those things that bring you joy and happiness, your day becomes your day, not someone else’s. Again, this involves having to say “no” more than you say yes.

Over time, you will find your friends, family, colleagues, and boss respecting your time much more, and that is when you start to gain control over your day. Gaining control of your day allows you to focus on the things you deem important.

It also means that you get to accomplish your priority in higher quality, which earns you far more respect than if you were trying to do everything all at once.

All Journeys Are Made Up of Tiny Steps

Desmond Tutu once said:

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Anything you want to accomplish is made up of small bites. If you want to save 1 million US dollars, you save one dollar at a time. If you want to complete a marathon, you do so one step at a time.

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Everything you want to accomplish is made up of tiny steps that you consistently take over time.

I have always been attracted to writing a daily journal but consistently failed to turn this into a habit. That changed when I began practicing essentialism and having a “less is more” mindset.

Instead of believing I had to write a thousand or more words per day, I set the goal of writing no more than five sentences per day. This is not many, but it helped instill in me the habit of writing a journal daily, which was the main goal.

Now, I look forward to sitting down at the end of the day with my journal and writing those few sentences as a summary of my day.

Over a week, I will not have much to show for my journaling efforts. But over many years, when I consistently do it, I will have around 8,900 sentences. That is roughly the length of a best-selling novel.

Build Routines Around What Is Essential to You

There are three things important to me: creating content, exercising, and reading.

I love doing all these things. And if I get to read something, create content I can publish, and exercise every day, I can say I had a great day. Because I have identified these three things, I built them into my daily routines.

I begin the day with writing whenever I can. I create content mid-morning, and I exercise at 2 pm. They are not only built into my mental schedule, but they are also scheduled on my calendar as well. I close out my day with twenty to thirty minutes of reading before going to sleep.

It is your routines that drive you towards accomplishing what you want to accomplish.

If you are busy doing everyone else’s work, you will not be able to achieve anything for yourself. You will be like a puppet being controlled by outside forces.

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But if you start your day with time for yourself and do your priority, then you will maintain control of your day and life.

Why Less Is More

Our lives are full of opportunities, and these opportunities are everywhere.

Twenty years ago, if a teenager wanted to make money from creating short films, they would be laughed at unless they had rich enough parents to buy them the necessary camera equipment for them to try.

But even if they had the right equipment and could make films, they had nowhere to showcase them. Today, the phone you carry around with you everywhere has the potential to make you millions of dollars. Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo provide people with this opportunity

So, if it is easy to make so much money, why are so few people doing it?

Because there are too many opportunities.

With so many opportunities, it is incredibly difficult to choose which one to take. The successful people today are the ones who chose one opportunity and ran with it long enough for it to turn into success.

Just to give you some examples of people who turned video making into success: Casey Neistat created real-life stories about living in New York.[1] Matt D’Avella took minimalism and film-making and turned that into success[2], and Aileen Xu, AKA Lavendaire, took simple living and created videos around that theme.[3]

Although they are all talented people in their own right, their success was not just built on their talents. It was also built on focusing on one theme and staying consistent over many years.

This is how essentialism can help you become successful.

Key Takeaways

  • Essentialism is not a physical thing like minimalism. Essentialism is a state of mind. It is about focusing on what is important to you and not allowing outside noise to interfere with your focus.
  • Essentialism allows you to take control of your day by allowing you to assess and evaluate opportunities before accepting them.
  • Finally, essentialism helps you focus on less, and this allows you to do these things better in the long run.

Learn More About Why Less Is More

Featured photo credit: Jesus Kiteque via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouTube: Casey Neistat
[2] Youtube: Matt D’Avella
[3] YouTube: Lavendaire

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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