By focusing on saying no more often, being more selective, you can bring more value to your work and reduce stress of doing more. 

Greg McKeown has spent the last fifteen years obsessed with one question: What is it that keeps capable, driven people from breaking through to the next level? To his surprise, he found the answer to be success.

ESSENTIALISMIn his revealing new book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown debunks the myth that “we can do it all.”  We can’t.  We are constantly juggling an ever growing set of professional and personal responsibilities. Despite ourselves, we continue to take on more.  We say yes because we feel we have to, not because we want to. As a result, we feel overworked and underutilized.  Busy, but not productive.

McKeown argues that what is needed in order to achieve greater productivity, success and live more fulfilling lives is to remain focused on the few essentials, and getting rid of the trivial many.   Do less but better.  That is the definition of Essentialism.

Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time.  It’s about doing less, but better.  It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By challenging the assumption of “we can have it all” and “I have to do everything,” and replacing it with “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time,” we can regain control of our choices about where to spend our precious time and energies.  Essentialism gives us the roadmap and tools to apply a more selective criteria to choose what is essential – in business and in life.



1. Exercise the power of choice

2. Distinguish the vital few from the trivial many

3. Instead of thinking “I can do both”, ask “What is the trade-off I want to make?”

4. Know that play is essential to spark creativity and innovation

5. Make sleep a priority

6. Say yes to only top 10% of opportunities

7. Make 1 decision that eliminates 1000 later decisions

8. Dare to say no firmly, resolutely and gracefully

9. Subtract more to bring forth more

10. Know that if you have limits you will become limitless

11. Celebrate small acts of progress

12. Find joy in the journey


Greg McKeown shares his thoughts on skills of an essentialist in this video:

About the author:

authorphoto.mckeownGreg McKeown writes, teaches, and speaks around the world  on the importance of living and leading as an Essentialist. He has spoken at companies such as Apple, Facebook,  Google, LinkedIn,, and Twitter and is among the most popular bloggers for the Harvard Business Review and LinkedIn’s Influencers. He is the co-creator of the popular course, Designing Life, Essentially at Stanford University, and serves as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum.