45 of the most actionable ways to become an Essentialist

Amy Cuevas Schroeder
7 min readJan 17, 2020

A summarized guide to ‘Essentialism: How to Live a Truly Meaningful, Productive Life’ by Greg McKeown

photo by Amy Cuevas Schroeder

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is like a manual for the Stretched Too Thin. If you’ve ever felt guilty about wanting to do it all but can’t, the Essentialist way of life is for you. You’ll realize that it’s impossible to do everything and do it well, and that’s AOK.

A do-everything mindset is tough to unlearn — especially if you’re a woman, a DIYer, or an ambitious person who’s drunk the Work Harder Not Smarter kool-aid (I’m all of the above). I’m here to tell you that Essentialism is possible, if you’re patient enough to take small steps.

In true Essentialist spirit, I’ve summarized some of the top takeaways from the 246-page book, either directly in McKeown’s words or edited slightly for actionability. Think of this as a curated refresher to revisit whenever you’ve fallen back into the NonEssentialist trap.

Tip: Note the nuances between focusing on the present and preparing for the future.

What is Essentialism?

  • The relentless pursuit of less but better.
  • A different way — a simpler way — of doing everything. Essentialism becomes a lifestyle as opposed to something you do occasionally.
  • Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.
  • Essentialism is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

Why Essentialism?

As McKeown explains, becoming an Essentialist is a long process, but the benefits are endless.

  • “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.” — The Dalai Lama
  • Life as an Essentialist is a life of meaning—a life that…

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Amy Cuevas Schroeder

Founder & CEO of The Midst: The gateway drug to the modern midlife experience. Bylines in Etsy, Minted, Pitchfork. https://the-midst.com/