I read Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, and I got some good ideas out of it.I suppose at it’s heart it’s about making decisions. “Less but better”. It’s a tough one to pull quotes from. Some of the best parts were a few graphics here and there. This was important:
Routine is one of the most powerful tools for removing obstacles.
I also like this idea of an “essential intent”. That is, some idea that’s both somewhat inspirational but also concrete. It gets you motivated… and you also know when you’re done. “Done right, an essential intent is one decision that settles one thousand later decisions”.
Maybe the most immediately practical part was a section on sayning “no”, where appeared this lovely bit of conversational judo:
Use the words “You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.” For example, “You are welcome to borow my car. I am willing to make sure the keys are here for you.” By this you are also saying, “I won’t be able to drive you.” You are saying what you will not do, but you are couching it in terms of what you are willing to do. This is a particularly good way to navigate a request you would like to support somewhat but cannot throw your full weight behind. I particularly like this construct because it also expresses a respect for the other person’s ability to choose, as well as your own. It reminds both parties of the choices they have.
And this section on sleeping:
The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, an dour spirits, we damage the very tool we nee to make our highest contribution. One of the most common ways people – especially ambitious, successful people – damage this asset is through a lack of sleep. […] While there are clearly people who can survive on fewer hours of sleep, I’ve found that most of them are just so used to being tired they have forgotten what it really feels like to be fully rested.
Guilty as charged. Reminded me, I realized this over Christmas vacation recently, when my previously typical 6-6.5 hours of sleep each day ballooned to 10-11 when I didn’t have any constraints. I felt like a different human being and now I’m all about that 8hrs every day. Worth a read.