“Play doesn’t just help us explore what is essential, it is essential in itself.”Greg McKeown, Essentialism
In Essentialism, Greg McKeown explains why we should all be relentlessly prioritizing and only spending time on the essentials.
He encourages constantly checking in with yourself and asking, “Is this the very most important thing I could be doing with my time?” If the answer is no, it gets removed from the schedule. By doing this, you are taking control of your life and not allowing others to define your priorities.
I’ve read other works that suggest this ruthless method of prioritization, but this one resonated with me for several reasons. The chapter about the importance of rest was especially compelling. The comparison he draws between operating with a lack of sleep and operating under the influence of alcohol helps drive home the point that sacrificing sleep isn’t a badge of honor. “Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize,” McKeown says, and getting enough sleep is critical to preserving this ability.
A chapter dedicated to playing also resonated with me. One of my goals for the year has been to spend an hour a day focused on a creative pursuit. The examples McKeown details of important discoveries that were made while the founder was “at play” helped reassure me that making creativity a priority isn’t self-indulgent. In fact, he says “Play doesn’t just help us explore what is essential, it is essential in itself.”
I got a lot out of listening to this book. Although I’m not typically one to read a book more than once, I could see myself listening to this one again to remind me of all of the reasons why it is important to say no and pare my schedule down to the things that really matter.
If you are looking for ways to “reduce friction” and “produce more by removing more” in your life, Essentialism is the book for you.