I L-O-V-E to read… anything and everything. And today I’m reviewing one of my favourite books.

This book will help you gorgeous mama to stop being busy and to start getting things done.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

DO YOU WANT TO STOP BEING BUSY, AND GET MORE DONE?

I love this book. It definitely ranks in my top 10 books of all time. Now this book isn’t written for the busy mama of young children, but so much of what is written resonated with me and my quest to become an intentional mama. And I found this book really easy to read. I’ve read it a couple of times now, and I discover something new each time I read it.

I love this quote from the book which describes in it’s most basic sense what Essentialism is all about:

“Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

How good does that sound? What really matters to you? To me, it’s my relationship with God, my husband and my children.

The book then goes on to ask this series of questions:

“Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?… Do you ever feel busy but not productive? Like you’re always in motion, but never getting anywhere?”

When I read this, I was answering “yes! yes! yes!” to all of these questions. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then read on.

From the book again:

“The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better…. It is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?”

How many areas in your life would it be helpful to ask yourself this question? I know the answer for me is in my parenting, in my marriage, in my job, on For Working Mamas, with my family and friends.

The fact of the matter is that there are far more opportunities and activities than I have time to invest in, and I’m sure the same could be said for you.

But the way of the Essentialist is about learning to filter those opportunities and selecting only those ones that are truly essential.

According to the author of this book, if we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people will choose for us. And I have found this to be so true.

This book is super practical and is divided into four parts. Here’s a brief summary of each section:

PART 1: ESSENCE

“Choice is at the very core of what it means to be an Essentialist…The reality is, saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others.”

Before reading this book I sat very firmly in the non-essentialist camp where I tried to do everything. I believed that if I could just work harder and faster, then I could do it all. And I’m telling you it led to lots of stress, and lots of complaining. I said “yes” to things that I really didn’t want to, which added further stress to my life, and took me away from the things that were important to me – my family.

Since reading this book, I have tried to deliberately, strategically and thoughtfully make wise choices that move me closer to my goals. This doesn’t come easily to me, because I’m naturally a people pleaser and I hate letting people down, but this is vital if I’m going to eliminate as much stress and pressure from my life as I can.

Have you heard the saying:
“If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!

This is so true in our house. My mood has the ability to change the atmosphere in our home, and if I’m running around stressed out, and over-committed, then the people that suffer are the ones I love most dearly.

BY THE WAY: I feel it’s really important to say that I haven’t got this all figured out. Just ask my family! I’m on a journey, and I’m working on it each day!

PART 2: EXPLORE

This section is all about filtering options and prioritising.

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

One question that McKeown asks in this section, that I’d like to ask you is: “When did you last take time out of your busy day simply to sit and think?”.

I know it’s tricky because we are surrounded by little people that depend on us. But this question really challenged me because I am always on the go, always busy, always trying to do something. But now I actively take time out each day to stop and think.

McKeown suggests that “the faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule”.

PROTECT THE ASSET

“The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution.”

Ouch! This hit home when I read this. In this chapter the author emphasises the importance of sleep, and how we need to “pace ourselves, nurture ourselves, and give ourselves fuel to explore, thrive and perform.”

I used to very proudly admit that I didn’t need much sleep, and I thought that was a good thing. However, recently hubby and I have prioritised getting to bed earlier. Our friends laugh at us because we try and get to bed by 9.30pm most nights! I know it sounds old fogey-ish, but we love it, and it makes a HUGE difference to how we feel in the mornings.

PART 3: ELIMINATE

This section is all about figuring out how to eliminate the non-essentials so that you can pour your energies into the activities that are most meaningful to you.

“When we have strong internal clarity it is almost as if we have a force field protecting us from the non-essentials coming at us from all directions.”

PART 4: EXECUTE

Once you’ve figured out what activities and efforts to keep in your life, you have to have a system for executing them, and in this section McKeown gives some very effective strategies for doing just that. Things like:

  • creating a buffer to prepare for the unforeseen
  • removing obstacles that are keeping you back
  • starting small and celebrating progress
  • developing a routine
  • doing the most difficult thing first

So there you have it! Sorry this was so long, but this book is filled with so much juicy goodness that I could have honestly written much more.

Can I just leave you with two further thoughts from the book?

“The life of an Essentialist is a life lived without regret. If you have correctly identified what really matters, if you invest your time and energy in it, then it is difficult to regret the choices you make.”

“Whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else.”

Phew! That’s it now I promise! As you can tell, I love this book. I hope that this post has been helpful, and that you might consider checking out the book.

Now I’d really love to hear from you. How do you go about eliminating stress from your life and focussing on what matters to you?