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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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