Reading List: Essentialism

UPDATED: May 3, 2014
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2014

In this likable and astute treatise on the art of doing less in order to do better, Greg McKeown urges readers to “live by design, not by default.” To live by design means consciously choosing to eliminate the superfluous, unrewarding and unproductive activities that drain time, energy and focus. By trying to do it all we end up “making a millimeter of progress in a million directions,” rather than creating significant progress on one task.

He addresses how to discern “the trivial from the vital few,” (explore and evaluate options before committing), as well as the importance of setting goals that are crystal-clear (pretty clear isn’t good enough) and how to stop “wordsmithing” and start deciding (avoiding the obsession with style over substance). While covering familiar terrain, McKeown makes the content fresh and the solutions easy to implement.

If you feel stretched thin, overworked and underutilized, flooded with busy work and stuck under other people's priorities, Essentialism might be your key to freedom, the systematic discipline needed to take control over what to spend time on and what to eliminate from your queue. Following McKeown's lucid and smart directions will help readers find “the way of the essentialist.”

by Greg McKeown

Crown Business: $23

Jessica Krampe is the digital managing editor for A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Jessica has worked for news, entertainment, business and lifestyle publications. Outside of the daily grind, she enjoys happy hours, live music and traveling.