How Can You Focus on Only What is Essential?

​I have had this book for a while on my Kindle called “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.   I decided to start reading it last night and the first thing it made me think about was the things that interrupt your day which cause you to lose focus.  I thought it would be good to share with you what I took away from just the first chapter alone.

It begins with a story of a guy who is stressed out, has too much on his plate and is trying to please everyone.  Sound familiar?   He talked to a mentor who advised him to “go to work but only do what a consultant would do.”  For any of us who have worked with consultants, they are highly driven individuals who are results focused and get a lot done in a short period of time.   If you applied this principle of acting like a consultant to your day, how would it change your focus and what you accomplish?  Would you say “no” to some things that you normally would have said “yes” to before?

In the book, he found that people were a little frustrated with him at first for saying no to their requests, but they soon start to respect the boundaries that he had created.  How much of your time is spend on things that are time wasters that don’t really add value to your work or the company’s goals?   His focus on the essential things allowed him to add value much more quickly and demonstrate progress.

He shared a story of whether or not to choose to attend a personal event in his life or be pressured to attend a meeting at work.  I totally related to that one.  I felt like I had to choose work or my family many days out of the week.  In most cases, I didn’t really need to attend the meeting or be on the conference call, but I felt the pressure to attend.  As he says in the book: “if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”  This really comes down to creating boundaries for yourself and ensuring that you are not only focusing on the right things at work, but also in your personal life.   Choose what is important and you will see how you can “live your life by design and not by default.”

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