Say No to Multitasking: Practice Essentialism

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” ~Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism

Here’s something interesting I learned reading Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: the word ‘priority’ used to be used only in the singular. As in ‘this is my one priority’ not ‘I’m balancing all my priorities.’ When you think about it, doesn’t having more than one priority negate the whole idea? It undercuts the intrinsic power of choosing what not to do.

Multitasking is the opposite of saying no. It implies a lack of discernment. We do it because we think we can ‘do it all’ but in the end we do less. Multitasking leads to fatigue and mediocrity.

So what’s the alternative? McKeown suggests that it’s essentialism, which is all about making choices. It isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.

It’s simple. Here are the basic steps, and the big questions McKeown answers along the way.


EXPLORE
How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?

ELIMINATE
How can we cut out the trivial many?

EXECUTE
How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?


If you ever feel overwhelmed – as if the tasks before you spread out in a mess of barbed wire that you can’t untangle – you really should read this book. It’s about so much more than productivity or business strategy. Essentialism showed me how to make choices every day that focus my attention.

When I’m practicing the Way of the Essentialist, I don’t multitask. I choose the vital few things. I feel less pulled in a hundred different directions. My days have more focus, more purpose, more clarity. I feel empowered.


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