The definition of essential: absolutely necessary; extremely important.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is not about getting more done with less (a concept that keeps getting pushed on society) but instead about getting the right things done. To quote the Goodreads description, “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. “
I pretty quickly got the point of the book, prioritize. Prioritize your life. Just like you cannot go at every aspect of your life at 100mph, not everything can be a number one priority. To put is simply, if the answer is not a definite yes, it is a no.
I found this book to be a great add-on to the minimalism lifestyle. Minimalism helps us to focus on the tangible things that we find important. Essentialism I found to be great for everything else.
I discovered Minimalism several years ago and have spent the last few years weeding through my physical things. Cutting down to only the clothing I enjoy wearing. Having items around that I actually use or that “bring me joy” (yes, I think Marie Kondo and Minimalism go hand in hand). I have a pretty good handle on that stuff but in the last year or so I have found myself overwhelmed by all of the things to do. My schedule changed at work a few years ago and ever since then I have struggled to find the time to not only do the things I want to get done, but also the things I want to get done.
I felt like I was just not productive enough with the time I had left in my days. I discovered bullet journaling and easily got discouraged because one I was not artist, and secondly, I could care less what the weather was enough to document it let alone have the potential to reflect on it at a future time. (If you have no idea what I am talking about just throw bullet journal into your Pinterest search, or hashtag that sucker, you’ll see). I even tried calendar blocking which gave me so much anxiety, seeing everything I needed to do blocked off with a very specific time of day, that I actually got nothing done. I tried waking up unnecessarily early to squeeze a few tasks into those early morning hours. And the flip side, I tried staying up later for the same reasons. Nothing was working. I found myself in the trap; wanting to do everything but actually accomplishing nothing. Or probably more so feeling like I was not actually accomplishing anything. And then, which seems to be a reoccurring theme on this site, I watched a Matt D’Avella video he posted interviewing the author, Greg McKoewn and talking about essentialism. I of course was so intrigued I had to get the book and it another book that was available on audio through my Scribd account. (Yay)
Overall, I thought the book was a bit longer than it probably needed to be; to drive the point home about essentialism. But I get it. I think I always got it but like most things needed the appropriate time and space to really get it.
I can’t do everything. Getting up at 5am to do laundry and then go to the gym; come home, shower, get the kids off to school and then spend eight hours at work to come home, make a meal… cook a meal…. clean up a meal… I was exhausted and cranky by 7pm. The most important thing I think I learned is less sleep is not better. The saying I’ll sleep when I’m dead is bullshit and awful. Humans need sleep. I know it’s talked about so much but it is true. The older I get the more sleep I realize I need. So if getting an adequate amount of sleep means that I’m missing my 6am cycle class that I love so much, or that the clothes sit in the washer until I get home… okay. I’m still not completely happy with that but I know it’s a necessarily choice I have to make. I am a happier person at the end of the day because of it.
But I know some days I need to get up at 5am in order to allow enough time to shower before the rest of the family because I know there are other things I need to do (like write and post this blog entry). Or get dinner into the crockpot on days where I go to the gym after work.
There are days after dinner instead of running around like a crazy woman doing all the things around the house I just grab my headphones and my kindle and just read for 30-40minutes. I have made that a priority that day. I now recognize I cannot make it a priority every day but some days I do.
Most days, before bed, I make a priority to have silly time with my kids. They are tiny adults at this point and if allowed they will get sucked into their screens. Before bed time I make it appoint of being the annoying mom who will distract them enough from their devices to wrestle or tickle or just be silly. These times are important to me because I will never get this time back with them. The internet will always be there.
As a society we have gotten so busy being busy we don’t even know what it’s like to be human anymore. We have lost the ability to have moments without our phones; without posting everything we’re doing and feeling. Trust me, I live and die by my calendar just like the next person but I am learning to take steps away from the “glorification of being busy” and being tethered to my phone. We’re all busy. We’re all so busy trying to out busy the next person we are not actually achieving anything.
Essentialism is not just the concept of doing less. But being better at the things we are choosing to do.