I’m a little late too the Book Club game this month. I apologize if you were waiting for the riveting discussion that I’m sure will ensue 🙂 I just had a lot going on and I know not all of it was essential. Ha-ha.
Anyway, this month I listened to the audiobook version of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less*. The author, Greg McKeown, has a lovely voice and if anything, listening to the audiobook favorably influenced my opinion of the book. That hasn’t always been the case when I listened to audiobooks in the past. See: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this book. Most people chase everything instead of chasing the right things. The right things are the things in your life and career that will make the most impact. Unfortunately most of the tasks that we do are unimportant. It’s answering email. It’s picking up the dry cleaning. It’s filling out that form for the 5th time because someone lost it again…
I know on an everyday basis that most of the work tasks and many of the life tasks that I do are nonessential. I know that checking my email 394834923293 times a day doesn’t contribute to my productivity. I know that doing the dishes isn’t going to contribute to my big life goals. I also know that if I don’t do it, no one else will. Which leads me to my biggest problem with the book. I think that the principles are very difficult to apply to government, service or “worker-bee” jobs. It would be easy to say “no” to pursuing menial tasks if I was higher up the food chain. Unfortunately, much of my job is filling out forms and filling up the printer’s paper tray. Even if I did advocate for essentialism, I don’t think I would ever see an institutional change. It’s sad, but true.
I also think that as a person with a limited income, essentialism is difficult to apply to my personal life. Yes, I want to work on writing a book, but I can’t afford to pay someone to do my laundry, clean my house and cook my meals. That has to be done on an every day basis by me.
Although some of the principles of the book are going to be extremely difficult to implement, since reading this book, I have begun to question the nonessential things I can control. Do I really need a Facebook? No. And as soon as I download all of my pictures, I plan to get rid of it. I also reinstalled Rescue Time to keep me off of distracting sites. And I’ve taken off my email’s sound alert, so I don’t run to my email each time I hear the new mail ping. These little things have been extremely helpful, but I’ve yet to free up large chunks of time for essential projects.
Have you read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less*? What did you think? How have you limited nonessential things in your life to make space for the important stuff? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. July’s pick will be Scarcity: Why having too little means so much*. Feel free to leave suggestions for future books in the comments!