In order to avoid drowning in unnecessary work, you need to adopt the principle of essentialism.

Essentialism isn’t about making tiny progress in many directions. Instead, choose a direction and make great strides in the things that matter most to you.

If we become overwhelmed by our tasks, then we lose our ability to make choices for ourselves.

If we surrender our power to choose, we essentially give others permission to choose for us. When people think that their efforts are futile, they tend to respond in two ways:They either give up completely or become overly active, accepting every opportunity presented to them. At first, their activity might indicate that they have not developed learned helplessness. However, these people aren’t actually exercising their power to choose the opportunity which is best for them. They simply do everything.

Giving yourself space to escape and seeing the bigger picture will help you pick out the vital from the trivial.

In order to ensure that you have that time, clear a break in your schedule every day to give yourself time to escape: to think.

One way to do so is by keeping a journal, but instead of writing down everything you experience, force yourself to write as little as possible. This will require you to think through everything you’ve done and sift out only what you consider essential. And as you read back through your journal entries you will see the big picture emerge.

Say no” to nonessential tasks and plan the essential ones carefully.

Be clear about your goals by having an essential intent: one main objective that is both inspirational and concrete.

One way of checking whether your goal is clear is by asking yourself: How will I know when I’ve reached my goal? If you can reasonably answer this question, then you know you have clarity about what you are doing.

Stop doing unnecessary things by withdrawing from failures and setting boundaries.

The sunk-cost bias is the tendency to continue investing money, time, effort and/or energy into something we already know is unlikely to succeed

Keeping on top of what’s important requires that you eliminate what slows you down and that you prepare carefully.

Becoming an essentialist requires you to identify what’s slowing you down and then eliminate it, rather than simply finding ways to work around it.


January 1, 2020