by Greg Mckeown

I came across essentialism in 2018 while reading the book by Greg Mckeown Essentialism (2014) : Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

In the book, Greg describes the essentialism as a step beyond minimalism. If minimalism is about minimising clutter/stuff, essentialism is about finding focus.

In essentialism, we make sure that we're not all over the place in what we do. Sure, in some sense essentialism and minimalism are similar. But if we take a deeper dive, we'll see that minimalistic movement focuses on the reduction of spending and possessions. While essentialism movement focuses on why and what we spend our time on.

I think that essentialism is best described through the sketch from the Greg-s book:

Are we disciplined or undisciplined?

Now let's be clear. In my opinion, complete discipline everywhere is madness. But strategic discipline in several areas can make a huge difference.

I'm not a complete essentialist. With my many interests: scouting, politics, finance, photographing, coding, physics, travel, math, reading, self-development, electronics, ... But I strive to be an essentialist in a few places.

I tend to ask my self:

What's important to me? What do I want to spend the time on?

Answers to questions above allowed me to refind some of my focus. When I was deciding if/how to continue my studies after master the main component for me was: What kind of team will I be working in?. Quality of team dynamics outweighed the rest.

Alright, we should focus more? But how do we know if we need more focus? Hopefully, you tried to figure out by now if you are an essentialist or not. Some questions from the book might help here:

  • Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
  • Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
  • Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?

If you answer is yes to any of the questions above you might want to give essentialism a shot.

On the other hand, if you do just one thing at a time and are super organised and happy with your life, then why bother with a buzzword like essentialism.