Doing More with Less Using the Minimalist Lifestyle Practice Called Essentialism
Essentialism is a minimalist lifestyle practice that you can incorporate in order to do more with less.
Have you experienced days, weeks or even longer of feeling completely overwhelmed by the stuff you need to do? Have you said yes to doing something and later regretted it? Are you missing out on the things you want to do because of other obligations? If so, then maybe the idea of essentialism is for you.
The reality is, if you don’t prioritize your life then someone else will prioritize your life for you.
Before we move forward, I want this up front. Look, I am certainly not a life coach, but I do believe this idea I am about to share is interesting and might benefit you.
In my life, I’ve been so overwhelmed with stuff I felt like I had to do that I began to break down a little bit. The quicker I finished tasks, the more I added to my to-do list. My days were filled with poor time management, working with people I didn’t want to work with, buying stuff I didn’t need, spending time conversing with others I didn’t particularly want to be around, immediately responding to incoming emails and texts and doing so many other non-essential stuff.
I allowed my life to be dictated by others. I was doing things because other people were doing things. I also got locked into a cycle of constant comparison and this cycle consisted of endless work. I was consumed by doing what others expected of me instead of doing what I wanted to do.
The tradeoff was big. My relationships suffered, I wasn’t the parent I wanted to be, my health was less than optimal, my time wasn’t mine, I didn’t get enough sleep causing me to react poorly to stress, I was inefficient and even at times, not happy. I didn’t know the difference between essential and nonessential and I certainly didn’t incorporate the word No into my life…well at least not enough. Things weren’t working and I was heading for a major meltdown if I didn’t do something different.
So what did I do? For me, I worked to discover the most essential phenomena in my life and eliminated as much nonessential stuff as possible. By eliminating the nonessential, I then opened up more time and energy to focus on the essential. The non-essential comprised the vast majority of my waking hours and when I finally focused on the essential, I found my to-do list was surprisingly small. That’s the crazy thing, the essential things turned out to be a relatively manageable list. I didn’t cure all of my issues, but my life did improve.
The concept of essentialism isn’t something new. Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and other notable minds discuss essentialism. More recently, author Greg McKeown received attention because of his definition and approach to essentialism as found in his book Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
What is essentialism and why is essentialism important?
Greg McKeown, defines essentialism as “less but better” and according to Greg, “once you give yourself the 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.”
Greg states that “whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, ‘What is essential?’ Eliminate everything else.”
What is and is not essentialism.
- “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.”
- Essentialism isn’t going off grid, hiding from friends and family, and disconnecting from email and social media. Instead, essentialism is about applying the principles of “less but better” to our lives. Essentialism is a systematic approach for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so you can then make the greatest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
- Essentialism isn’t another task in your life, rather, essentialism is a new way to approach everything in your life.
How to discover what’s essential in your life. Greg and other essentialists provide a lot of questions that you can ask yourself to help discover what’s essential in your life. These questions are something like this, what am I really passionate about? What am I particularly good at? Do I love whatever it is that I am doing? If I could be truly great at only one thing, what would I pick and why? What is important to me right now?
You can practice essentialism right now. Practicing essentialism isn’t overly complicated. This is how you or I can incorporate essentialism into our lives.
- Explore by focusing on discovering what’s essential in your life. It’s all relative, there’s no right or wrong answers here. Use the questions I just listed to assist in your exploration. Often revisit this exploration process as you continue to find your purpose.
- Eliminate the non-essentials. This involves realizing you have a choice. For instance, you can say no to requests. I say no all the time to sponsorship requests, engagements and even hanging out with friends. By saying no, I’ve saved time and energy that I now use to focus on what I deem essential.
- Execute by focusing your time and energies on the essentials. This is where we now do more with less, meaning we place more time and energy into what we find essential instead of spending our precious time and energy on nonessential things.
What do you think? Is the minimalist lifestyle idea of essentialism something worthy of incorporating in your life?