he went to speak with a mentor who gave him surprising advice: “Stay, but do what you would as a consultant and nothing else. And don’t tell anyone.” In other words, his mentor was advising him to do only those things that he deemed essential—and ignore everything else that was asked of him. (Location 116)review

“Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?” If he couldn’t answer a definitive yes, then he would refuse the request. (Location 123)review

by being selective he bought himself space, and in that space he found creative freedom. He could concentrate his efforts on one project at a time. He could plan thoroughly. (Location 132)review - Note: What does that feel like to work on one project at a time?

only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter. (Location 143)review - Note: This requires direct prioritization and identifying what is truly important.

It took courage, as it always does, to eliminate the nonessential. (Location 156)review - Note: Copying what has been done in the past is the easy path forward, but that is not where innovation lies.

Less but better. (Location 159)review - Note: Essentialism

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. (Location 166)review

The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions. In many cases we can learn to make one-time decisions that make a thousand future decisions so we don’t exhaust ourselves asking the same questions again and again. (Location 175)review

Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless. (Location 179)review

“Only a few things really matter.” (Location 195)review

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. (Location 239)review

The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. (Location 306)review

Think about what happens to your closet when you never organize it. Does it stay neat and tidy with just those few outfits you love to wear hanging on the rack? Of course not. When you make no conscious effort to keep it organized, the closet becomes cluttered and stuffed with clothes you rarely wear. (Location 323)review - Note: We should think this way when thinking about projects, areas and priorities. They need routine maintenance and cleanup.

In your personal or professional life, the equivalent of asking yourself which clothes you love is asking yourself, “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?” (Location 334)review

sunk-cost bias: studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and thus that we find them more difficult to get rid of. (Location 340)review

Once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking, “How can I make it all work?” and start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?” (Location 378)review

ask three questions: “What do I feel deeply inspired by?” and “What am I particularly talented at?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?” (Location 392)review

What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives? (Location 433)review

To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.” (Location 469)review

This is why an Essentialist takes the time to explore all his options. The extra investment is justified because some things are so much more important that they repay the effort invested in finding those things tenfold. An Essentialist, in other words, discerns more so he can do less. (Location 635)review - Note: I’m going to use this to explain my over-researching behavior.

The reality is, saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others. (Location 694)review

Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” (Location 755)review

“I realized that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the point. (Location 941)review

apply the principle of “less but better” to your journal. Restrain yourself from writing more until daily journaling has become a habit. (Location 1005)review - Note: On getting started with journaling

The word school is derived from the Greek word schole, meaning “leisure.” Yet our modern school system, born in the Industrial Revolution, has removed the leisure—and much of the pleasure—out of learning. (Location 1068)review

Bob Fagan, a researcher who has spent fifteen years studying the behavior of grizzly bears, discovered bears who played the most tended to survive the longest. When asked why, he said, “In a world continuously presenting unique challenges and ambiguity, play prepares these bears for a changing planet.” (Location 1099)review - Note: Play prepares us for changes and shifts in our life.

Essentialists choose to do one fewer thing right now in order to do more tomorrow. Yes, it is a trade-off. But cumulatively, this small trade-off can yield big rewards. (Location 1224)review

mastery takes focused and deliberate effort, and indeed it’s encouraging to learn that excellence is within our sphere of influence rather than a blessing bestowed only on the most naturally gifted. (Location 1247)review

teams without purpose become leaderless. With no clear direction, people pursue the things that advance their own short-term interests, with little awareness of how their activities contribute to (or in some cases, derail) the long-term mission of the team (Location 1552)review

A powerful essential intent inspires people partially because it is concrete enough to answer the question, “How will we know when we have succeeded?” (Location 1609)review

In virtually every instance, clarity about what is essential fuels us with the strength to say no to the nonessentials. (Location 1693)review

The only way out of this trap is to learn to say no firmly, resolutely, and yet gracefully. Because once we do, we find, not only that our fears of disappointing or angering others were exaggerated, but that people actually respect us more. (Location 1704)review

I am simply saying everyone is selling something—an idea, a viewpoint, an opinion—in exchange for your time. Simply being aware of what is being sold allows us to be more deliberate in deciding whether we want to buy it. (Location 1748)review

if your manager comes to you and asks you to do X, you can respond with “Yes, I’m happy to make this the priority. Which of these other projects should I deprioritize to pay attention to this new project?” Or simply say, “I would want to do a great job, and given my other commitments I wouldn’t be able to do a job I was proud of if I took this on.” (Location 1798)review

As the saying goes, nobody in the history of the world has washed their rental car! This is because of something called “the endowment effect,” our tendency to undervalue things that aren’t ours and to overvalue things because we already own them. (Location 1874)review

There should be no shame in admitting to a mistake; after all, we really are only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were. (Location 1912)review

The tendency to continue doing something simply because we have always done it is sometimes called the “status quo bias.” (Location 1931)review

At a dinner I attended recently where he spoke, he said he thinks of the role of CEO as being the chief editor of the company. (Location 2001)review - Note: Jack Dorsey on the role of CEO

in life, disciplined editing can help add to your level of contribution. It increases your ability to focus on and give energy to the things that really matter. (Location 2009)review

As Alan D. Williams observed in the essay “What Is an Editor?” there are “two basic questions the editor should be addressing to the author: Are you saying what you want to say? and, Are you saying it as clearly and concisely as possible?”7 Condensing means saying it as clearly and concisely as possible. (Location 2048)review

It is human nature to want to do easy things. (Location 2216)review - Note: How do we re-frame our focus to do the meaningful things.

One way to protect against this is simply to add a 50 percent buffer to the amount of time we estimate it will take to complete a task or project (Location 2345)review

the Nonessentialist is always reacting to crises rather than anticipating them, he is forced to apply quick-fix solutions: the equivalent to plugging his finger into the hole of a leaking dam and hoping the whole thing doesn’t burst. (Location 2406)review

it’s a method of reducing your efforts to maximize your results. (Location 2412)review - Note: Another great quote for the Finding Focus to do list.

An Essentialist produces more —brings forth more—by removing more instead of doing more. (Location 2427)review

When we don’t know what we’re really trying to achieve, all change is arbitrary. (Location 2435)review

When we don’t know what we’re really trying to achieve, all change is arbitrary. So ask yourself, “How will we know when we are done?” (Location 2435)review


Frederick Herzberg reveals research showing that the two primary internal motivators for people are achievement and recognition for achievement. (Location 2523)review

Henry B. Eyring has written, “My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve: the best place to look is for small changes we could make in the things we do often. There is power in steadiness and repetition.” (Location 2533)review

So we introduced a token system.9 The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week. These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week, adding up to $5 or five hours of screen time a week. If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token, which could also be traded in for screen time or for money. The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90 percent, reading went up by the same amount, and the overall effort we had to put into policing the system went way, way down. In other words, nonessential activity dramatically decreased and essential activity dramatically increased. (Location 2557)review - Note:todo

There is something powerful about visibly seeing progress toward a goal. Don’t be above applying the same technique to your own essential goals, at home or at work. (Location 2598)review - Note: Idea for Contexts

The work Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has done on creativity demonstrates how highly creative people use strict routines to free up their minds. “Most creative individuals find out early what their best rhythms are for sleeping, eating, and working, and abide by them even when it is tempting to do otherwise,” Mihaly says. “They wear clothes that are comfortable, they interact only with people they find congenial, they do only things they think are important. Of course, such idiosyncrasies are not endearing to those they have to deal with….But personalizing patterns of action helps to free the mind from the expectations that make demands on attention and allows intense concentration on matters that count.” (Location 2678)review - Note: I had not heard of this, but highly resonate with it.

his routine is governed by a single rule: “Focus on the hardest thing first.” (Location 2737)review

What we can’t do is concentrate on two things at the same time. When I talk about being present, I’m not talking about doing only one thing at a time. I’m talking about being focused on one thing at a time. Multitasking itself is not the enemy of Essentialism; pretending we can “multifocus” is. (Location 2839)review

I closed my eyes and asked, “What’s important now?” After a moment of reflection I realized that until I knew what was important right now, what was important right now was to figure out what was important right now! (Location 2849)review

It supports the sentiment attributed to Lao Tzu: “In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” (Location 2878)review