This month’s book is one of the all-time favorites of my father – who is an even bigger productivity book junkie than I am. The full title says it all – essentialism is the disciplined pursuit of less. In other words, you can build a life around the meaningful/joyful essentials, but it takes a lot of discipline and hard work.
My notes outline the key differences between non-essentialists (those engaged in the undisciplined pursuit of more) and essentialists. One of the key points – essentialists say yes to only the top 10% of opportunities – struck a chord with me. When I was in the first year of my doctoral work, I had a pretty major breakdown because I had taken on way too much. I was the poster-child for non-essentialists. One of my friends offered the following advice – “An opportunity is not an obligation.” Over five years later, I still try to always keep this in mind.
While I feel like I’ve already figured out the key ideas of this book, I feel like they’re important to keep in mind as I start restructuring my life around my various interests. I must always be paring down my work to focus on the things that are very important to me at the given time.