Why You Should Flush 90% of Your To-Do List Down the Toilet

It’s easy to confuse abundance with blessing, especially in our work life. But sometimes abundance is just another word for burden. And it’s crucial for our success and satisfaction that we learn to spot the difference.

Are You an Essentialist?

More opportunities cross my desk every day than I can manage, and I bet it’s the same for you—even if you don’t always realize it.

We face a constant temptation in life to take on more than we can handle. We just don’t have the bandwidth. But it’s hard to let an opportunity go, isn’t it?

Dismantling the Yes Bomb

Each invitation, pitch, and request feels special, seems flattering, and promises more money, fun, or significance than we currently have. It’s just too good to pass up, we rationalize—forgetting that we’ve already excused several other yeses using the very same logic.

It’s even harder to reject demands from employers, clients, and others—even when we know we can’t manage them all.

We figure we’ll have to squeeze the new demand into the margin someplace, unaware that all our yeses are building a bomb that will eventually make casualties of our health, job performance, family life, and more.

The best guide I’ve discovered to dismantling these “yes bombs” is Greg McKeown’s new book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

The Trivial Many and the Vital Few

“There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in,” McKeown says. “And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the fact is that most are trivial and few are vital.”

That’s the crucial difference between blessing and burden. We can fill our time with very good things and end up saddled, straddled, and stressed. That’s because good things might still be trivial.

As McKeown shows, Essentialism is a lifestyle focused on discerning the difference between the “many trivial” and the “vital few.” Essentialists are committed to the vital few in every circumstance they can manage.

The benefits include not only lower stress, but the satisfaction of developing real excellence and making a vital contribution through our callings.

7 Realities Every Essentialist Knows

Essentialism explains the ins and outs of the Essentialist lifestyle, but these are seven realities I found particularly meaningful as I look at my own day-to-day evaluation of opportunities.

  1. The power of choice. When we forget we have the power of choice, we allow others to determine what fills our time instead of ourselves. Essentialists remain empowered by choice to determine what they do and don’t do with their time.
  2. The momentum of focus. For every ten things Nonessentialists do, Essentialists do one. Instead of diffusing their energy, they focus it and gain momentum to make more impact than they otherwise could. When we complain about being “spread too thin” at work, this is a sure sign we need to shed tasks and train our focus.
  3. The importance of tradeoffs. To do one thing is to miss out on others—and maybe even essential things. The more we commit to doing, the more strained our schedules for the the things that are truly important, including family, rest, and play. Essentialists weigh every opportunity against the potential tradeoffs.
  4. The value of extreme criteria. Essentialists don’t consider the minimum requirements for a yes. They use extreme criteria: Is this exactly what I want? I’m I ideal for this opportunity? As McKeown says, “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”
  5. The role of the journalist. The role of a journalist is not to regurgitate facts, but to explain the meaning of those facts. Essentialists act as journalists of their own experience. Instead of allowing others to determine what matters and why, Essentialists make that determination for themselves.
  6. The power of clarity. According to McKeown, Essentialists pass on about 90 percent of opportunities. If we are clear on what we do, we can filter out a thousand things we shouldn’t. To gain this clarity requires asking hard questions, making difficult tradeoffs, and exercising self-discipline. And Essentialists know it’s totally worth investing in the 10 percent of opportunities that make sense for them.
  7. The liberating possibility of no. Saying no to the many trivial requests, Essentialists are really saying yes to what matters most in their lives: their faith, their family, their health, their calling.

To be successful, satisfied, fulfilled people, according to McKeown, we need to save our energy and creativity for just a few essential opportunities and pass on all the rest.

That will mean some hard choices, but we’re tricking ourselves to think burdening ourselves with superfluous yeses will make our life more comfortable. We’ll just shortchange the important activities and people in our lives.

Question: What’s truly essential in your life right now and what extraneous activities do you need to limit today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Neel Raman

    Thanks for this summary Michael. I can totally relate to having more opportunities than I can handle so this is a very timely post. I have just started reading “Essentialism” in the last week and am really looking forward to developing the mindset of an essentialist.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      You and me both Neel – best of luck in your efforts to cull toward the best!

      • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

        My mastermind group has been hammering the principles of Essentialism to me as I weigh in on an opportunity that admittedly may not be essential. I think I need to pick up and read this book!

  • http://www.sociallysorted.com.au/ Donna Moritz

    Great post, thanks Michael. I had just finished saying no to 3 client requests that were ones I would have taken last year but I have recently decided to streamline my services so I am only consulting in a couple of key ways.. so it meant they were not a good fit. But, I was feeling the uncertainty of saying no to money even though I knew it would be a drain on my time and not the best use of my skills for them or me. Reading this clarified I was on the right path and I have just downloaded the book. Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It is hard to turn away paying clients. I have done this a bunch this year, too. I keep telling myself, ‟This is not essential.”

      • http://www.sociallysorted.com.au/ Donna Moritz

        Great mantra!

    • Jevonnah Ellison

      Well said, Donna! And what a great place to be in. As a Leadership Coach and Purpose Strategist to high potential & highly motivated women, I too have found that to be true. It pays to focus on the best and learn how to refer other clients who may not be the “ideal” fit. Blessings!

    • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

      I am faced with the exact decision that was in front of you, Donna. It is tough!

      • http://www.sociallysorted.com.au/ Donna Moritz

        Yes it is tough… but it is getting easier.. now I have to work on the “no” to speaking gigs… I’ll be doing a lot less next year and focusing on my blog and programs, so your comment was a great reminder to read this post again and read that book! thanks @jbledsoejr:disqus – great timing!

        • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

          My pleasure! Great timing both ways as you’ve encouraged me.

  • http://www.gavinhalse.com/ Gavin Halse

    In business we are programmed how to do more with less. Yet the essentialist is suggesting that we need to do less with more! I love being challenged in this way! I imagine that a healthy dose of self awareness and a clear understanding of your life priorities is going to be necessary, as will a great deal of self discipline. Great thought provoking post!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great point about priorities Gavin! One of the areas I’m constantly challenged with is proper anchoring. Once those foundational moorings are established they help me navigate and choose among the extraneous and the exceptional. Admittedly, my application of anchoring is a bit lumpy ;-) Yet, I press forward….

      • http://www.gavinhalse.com/ Gavin Halse

        Agreed! Foundational moorings and proper anchoring can be elusive sometimes, especially if your personality is to see opportunity in every situation. This is my challenge too, we press forward together!

    • http://valevkaldojareadingjoy.com Valev Kaldoja

      Very well said, Gavin: to do less with more! Thanks! And of course amazing blog post from Michael!

  • http://www.productiveinsights.com/ Ash

    Great summary Michael. I totally agree with the sentiments of the post. I have been focusing on making 2014 a year of simplicity and minimalism. And I’ve found that I’ve been much more productive as a result.

    I wrote a detailed blog post (http://sumo.ly/IRx) about it but the key points were:

    1. Eliminate the nice-to-haves to dramatically shrink project timeframes

    2. Go back to pen and paper

    3. Get a noticeboard if you don’t already have one

    4. Have a paper weekly planner and stick it up on your noticeboard

    5. Get rid of visual clutter/noise and work every day to keep it that way

    6. Use the Pomodoro Technique to focus your attention when you’re struggling to concentrate.

    7. When fleshing out ideas or writing large chunks of text, don’t type, use Dragon Dictate

    8. Get a workout in first thing in the morning.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great suggestions Ash – can you give a brief explanation of the Pomodoro Technique for those of us not familiar with that concept?

      • http://www.productiveinsights.com/ Ash

        Sure TorConstantino,

        There are 5 steps to the Pomodoro Technique. (You can read more about it here http://sumo.ly/PtS):

        1. Decide on which task you wish to complete

        2. Set a timer for 25 minutes

        3. Immerse yourself in the task for those 25 minutes till the timer rings

        4. Take a short break (3-5 minutes) – this is an essential part of the technique and is as important as the 25 minute task immersion step

        5. Every four Pomodoro’s you take a break for 15-30 minutes

  • Lisa S Arnold

    Thanks Michael, as an adopted mother of three young children, a Pastor’s wife,and homeschooler (two of the three which are special needs), as well as grandmother to 14, I have very little time for outside activities. I have to choose carefully what I spend my extra time on. Right now it is building my platform for my soon-to-be released book, “For Sanity’s Sake: 365 Days of devotion for the menopausal Woman” (imagine going through menopause while raising three very needy young children). I have to fight for this time and most people call me obsessive about it. But if I don’t choose to be focused,a million things draw me away. I definitely have to choose the essential and block the nonessential from my mind or nothing gets done. God bless.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I totally get this, Lisa. I’m in a similar situation. What’s your process for deciding what is essential and what isn’t?

  • Kathleen Thompson

    Not very long ago, I was so afraid to say no to anything. I was burned out and resentful. I realized that what I was doing was not sustainable, and that I wasn’t even using my key strengths much of the time. So I began to pare down. And not just my commitments, but also my possessions. I have not arrived at a state of simplicity – I think it’s a journey and not a destination – but what a difference it is making. Getting to the essentials is not easy, but it is rewarding. Thank you for bringing up this topic, Michael. You’ve struck a chord once again.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      I can totally relate to your comment Kathleen – I’m such a people pleaser it’s tough to say “no.” That’s a developmental area for me where I make one step forward, then two steps back…but awareness is the key to change, right?

      • Kathleen Thompson

        It absolutely is, Tor. We can only change behavior that we first know exists. And have a compelling “why” so we don’t lose heart when we take those two steps back.

  • Norah Colvin

    I love this idea of essentialism. It makes making choices easier! Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Yes, exactly. It makes the choices easier. Which can often take more time than the task itself!

  • Mark Mtathews

    I am focusing on making a major career move and my focus should be on “training” for a new direction, but I catch myself still clinging to request from my old self. Thank you for the insight, will look at buying the book.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

    Great list here Michael. I look at it like this from a few different areas;

    1. Spiritual
    2. Family
    3. Business
    And in that order as well. If I get requests that do not align with my core values then I don’t accept them. I learned from you to have a template that I can just send to those people so that I can weed out all of the fluff and make sure that I am only concentrating on what is vitally important to me. I used to be a Yes person that wanted everyone to like me, so I accepted everything that was offered. I found myself burned out dazed. It wasn’t until I realized that I could not do it all in 24hrs that I changed to my core value philosophy.

  • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. Essentialism has really changed my weekly planner and a lot of my activities. As a long time blogger (9 years) I’ve decided to spend the next year writing a foundational book, that I can base my business and my writing on, moving forward. Saying NO to a lot of unimportant tasks has allowed me time to focus on writing, interviewing, and branding. The opportunities this has opened up have been amazing. Just this last week, I’ve interviewed some key people and their powerful stories and experiences will add important content and add credibility to the book. I’ve talked with others who have shown an interest in the book concept and are willing to take a look at a book proposal.

    Talking with branding experts and a business coach, has given me a focused productivity path.
    Your guide to launching a bestselling book has been invaluable. Saying NO this year has been hard, but the doors it has opened are truly remarkable.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great comment John – truly inspiring for those of us still trying to improve and grow in these areas!

  • Virginia Dean

    Read the post on FB, have so many bright shiny things and trainings that i didn’t even realize I am suscribed. got the book on audible…need this badly.

  • http://www.stephenpbrown.com/ Stephen P Brown

    Well this would certainly help those who are good at several things and have difficulty choosing from all the options available to them! Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  • Shaun Herring

    Thanks Michael for the recommendation. I’ve read Greg’s first book, Multipliers, which was great and so this one is for sure on my reading list. By the way, in order to keep track of all the essentials, what daily planner productivity app do you recommend that works well with an iPhone? Keep up the great content!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I use Nozbe.

  • http://thesmallbusinessgeek.com/ John Cole

    Great post Michael. I think this is more difficult for the person that is just starting out, whether at a new job or a new business. It seems like saying no could cost too much and so you just say yes to everything/anything in fear of missing out or losing an opportunity but you just have to really focus on only doing those things which matter most (80/20 rule)….

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      There are seasons (i.e. starting a new business, launching a book, etc.) when it’s necessary to say “yes” as much as possible, at least for a set length of time as it relates to your new endeavor. But then that becomes your “essential” and you eliminate other opportunities or responsiblities so you can focus.

      • http://thesmallbusinessgeek.com/ John Cole

        That’s a good point Michele….It is always a fine line that we walk that requires constant self examination and reevaluation.

  • http://bloggingyourpassion.com/ Jonathan Milligan

    Ordered this book just in time for vacation. I’ve already read almost half of the book. My wife keeps telling me to put the book down so I’ll have something to read on vacation. I think i’ll be going through this book a few more times anyways.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    “Good things might still be trivial.” I’ll be ruminating on that all day. Life circumstances have forced me to say far more “no’s” than I ever have before. It’s freeing! But I’m also discovering that sliding back into the over-driven, over-zealous “doing” happens far too easily. It’s going to take an persistent, disciplined effort to change a long history of a bad “yes” habit.

    • Kathleen Thompson

      As a still-recovering “yes” person, I hear you, Michele. I was really ill a few years ago, and had to drop everything. And yet, I have sometimes let good and trivial things creep back. It takes constant vigilance and extreme clarity to say no.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/dougpatten/ dougpatten

    Perfect timing for me, Michael.
    I am on day 4 of a new opportunity that has the potential to allow me to be more effective on a broader platform than i have ever accessed, but it also brings with it the potential to consume me and every bit of margin i need to stay healthy and productive.
    In healthcare, we do our best work in crisis, not because we get everything done, but because we are trained to traige. We are trained to do only what has to be done and leave out the less important.
    We are even trained to redirect resources away from victims with certain injuries– true emergencies that have little or no chance of successful recovery– toward those who have survivable injuries.
    It sounds harsh, but it is a reality.
    And it eliminates or at least reduces futility.
    i will get hold of this book to help me with translating my healthcare experience into the new language of this next leadership role.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Best of luck in your new endeavor Doug – the concept of “trained to triage” is a great skill to have. I strive to manifest that skill in my life as “relentless prioritization” because of the fluid dynamics of life and constant shifting circumstances.

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/dougpatten/ dougpatten

        Thanks, Tor.
        A few years ago I discovered another great “tool” that helped me realize that much of what i do is unnecessary. i had an auto accident and was out of work for over 2 weeks. When i returned, no one had died, only a few things had been delayed. There was some lost revenue for our practice, and the mail pile was higher (before email!) but otherwise everything went well without me. instead of demoralizing me, it liberated me.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    Great post and recommendation – just ordered it to my Kindle. Reminds me of the idea of focusing on the things that are truly important rather than the “tyranny of the urgent.”

  • Lael Arrington

    Michael, thank you for the wisdom in this post. It expands on your advice that the more we can focus our platforms the more results we will experience. (One of my best takeaways from Platform U)

    However as I read this I kept thinking of what Jesus said, “Matthew 5:41-42 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

    USC Philosophy prof Dallas Willard was a great proponent of this, as he wrote in the Divine Conspiracy. When people asked something of him his predisposition was to try to say yes. He lived it too.

    One time when I was interviewing him on a new book it was such a rich interview, yet there was so much more we could cover. I gently asked him if there was any way we could tape a second interview after the first.

    He paused for barely a moment and simply said, “Yes, just let me go turn my sprinkler off.” It turned out to be a great interview that we both featured on our websites for years.

    I know you share this desire to follow Jesus. How do you interpret or resolve what seems to be a difference in approach to interruptions? Obviously we can’t say yes to everything. But what do you think about this invitation to give help when asked?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is a very thoughtful question. Thanks.

      I think Jesus is using hyperbole here, just as he does earlier when He says, ‟If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
      I believe Jesus is basically saying, give to others, especially your enemies. But I don’t think he is saying do this to the detriment of your other duties and commitments. This has to be taken in context. For example, Jesus also says No in other places, like when Mary and Martha request him to come when Lazarus is sick.
      The problem with saying Yes to everything is that it doesn’t scale. I know a man, for example, who believes in extreme accessibility. In the process, he has worn himself out, work his family out, and really isn’t accessible to anyone. As a kind of twist on something I said in a recent podcast, ‟You can be accessible to anyone, just not everyone.”
      Thanks again.

      • Lael Arrington

        Thank you for the response, Michael. I agree that Jesus was exaggerating to make his point and that the point was to give. I’ve been thinking about this today. Seems like in many ways Jesus was an essentialist. He stayed on mission to the vital few. And yet not “legalistically” so. He turned the water to wine even when his “time had not yet come.” He relented and healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter. He knew when to say yes beyond the vital few. At least occasionally.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I agree, Lael. Good insight.

          The thing I have noticed is that unless I have margin, I can’t be spontaneous in the moment.
          Thanks.

          • Lael Arrington

            Sounds like a good blog post

  • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

    Great post Michael. I will be reading this one! I am getting away with my wife all next week and we are tearing apart my schedule and rebuilding a few. I am running to empty at the moment and need to be much more of an essentialist.

  • Paul Hunt

    What would happen if everyone used the essentialists approach to eliminate ninety percent of their platform building activities? Would the world be a quieter and more sane place?

  • http://www.love-laugh-learn.com/ Deanna

    This resonates with me right now. I’m in the middle of this — letting go of what’s good for what’s best — it’s not easy. One of the things I ask is, “am I going to regret it now or later if I don’t do this one thing?” If the answer is no, I let it go.

    I’m finding it helpful for both small and large decisions!

  • Steven Schott

    Sounds like a great book that I will have to read! The challenge for me has been that many of the “trivial many” tasks or actions I am asked to take are family related, i.e., items my wife or daughters think are important that I don’t view as vital. I have really struggled with how to say “no” to them and have typically defaulted to saying “yes” (or just going along) to maintain family harmony (who am I kidding, really to avoid conflict). I justify it on the basis that these are just the sacrifices that a good husband/father has to make, but it does tend to create personal stress and lack of fulfillment..

  • Fred Abrams

    I make my living as a project management consultant and trainer. Setting priorities in determining the scope of a project is essential – some desired things become “deferred content” When cost overruns occur you know where to go to eliminate something (add it to deferred content) and liberate funds. When you are running under budget you know what you would like to add back (assuming you have a properly “risk adjusted” budget and shouldn’t hold those funds until a particularly risky task is completed.

  • http://BurnoutSucks.com Jim Hough

    Great post Michael! The “yes bomb” (great word picture!) is at the heart of so many people’s struggle with burnout—both professional and personal. I’ve experienced it in a big way. I recently launched a website (BurnoutSucks.com) and am writing a book by the same title that addresses this very issue. I focus mostly on creative professionals, but it’s applicable to nearly everyone. I’m so encouraged to see more people of influence (like you) join the conversation about protecting our creative potential and considering it to be a precious gift. Thanks for all you do!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jim. Your site looks terrific.

      • http://BurnoutSucks.com Jim Hough

        Why thank you sir!

  • Michael Hansen

    Great tips! Saying “no” has always been a struggle for me. I definitely struggle with “people pleasing” and perfectionism. But it makes sense – the fewer opportunities, the vital ones, will allow more time for me to produce quality work in those areas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Brett bradley

    Just bought this book! looking forward to reading it!

  • http://GTDNext.com GTDNext.com

    I find that the better I get at doing my weekly review the better I am at saying “no” to things. Having a good sense of what is on my plate helps keep me from overextending myself. Not always easy, but always worth it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is a really important point. I have not made that correlation before. Thanks!

  • Suellen Ann Brewster

    WOW. This is super SUPER powerful! Getting book STAT!!! Thank you!

  • Doug Tjaden

    Michael. I heard something very profound a couple of months ago that is related to this. “If Satan can’t stop you, he will push you faster than you can operate in the Spirit.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is profound, and I think, true.

      • Doug Tjaden

        By the way. Thanks for the tip on the book. It’s on my Kindle now…

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    As always, your posts give me new perspectives. This looks like a great resource not only for me but as I head into a life coaching career and it’s potential to help others. Launching that career is essential right now. I love the idea of saying no is saying YES to what is essential. I suppose it takes practice to say no so I better start practicing!

  • http://www.acceleratedbreakthrough.com Paul A. Perez

    Wonderful book synopsis, Michael. As successful as you are already, I’m pretty sure you already consciously, if not intuitively, already have such a practice in place. As Paul said, “For me, all things are good, but not all are beneficial.” Keep the charge!

  • Katie Milton

    Great post! I am looking forward to reading this book and have added it to my Kindle wish list. As an entrepreneur building a new business, these lessons will be critical! Come to think of it, these lessons will be timeless! Thanks again!

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Sounds like an incredible book Michael, I’m going to order it. Right now the focus is building my online business and helping our kids adjust to life in Maui. Some things I’m working on eliminating are a lot of little time waters. I’ve given in to way too many.

  • http://thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

    Not knowing Greg nor this book, it sounds a bit similar to the idea of the narrow road. And it’s interesting to think what the implications are for the false self, or the ego in living a public life determining what’s essential and what’s not. I certainly have felt this grow in my own world this year as requests for my time have increased. I’m gonna have to chew on this more…

  • http://www.hoopercoaching.com/ Charles Hooper Jr

    I have come to a new freedom saying no to meetings which really are a waste of time. I cannot make a contribution and they do not make a contribution to me. It is hard for me to hear people in the meeting laughing and having fun, but I am being more productive by not being at that meeting. Great summary Michael, I am reading the book this weekend!

  • Katie Andraski

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am feeling overwhelmed by my upcoming book publication because the publicity is all on me. Mind you, I launched Crossway books in the early 80’s. This book is about that and promoting the Schaeffers when my parents died. So I wiled away many, many hours in this project. I can promote others, but I’m not so sure about myself. And from doing this, I know how much detail work is involved.

    I teach composition to inner city kids and that work is extremely important and rewarded. It’s not quite time to retire I don’t think. And I own two horses who are in training, who need consistent work. Finally, I love reading FB, which is an addiction, but is very rich, and which takes too many hours.

    Just last week, when I was under deadline to copy edit my novel, and busy with my horse, people started asking me to help them with their work. I was resentful, and overwhelmed and not sure how to say no or if I had a right to say no.

    So this post is like a word for the Lord, reminding me how to be focused, how to carefully sort out what is important and get my work done. What a huge gift this was right this minute. Thank you again.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Just ordered the book, sounds great! — I can relate. I’m an opportunist and can sometimes fall victim to overload BUT I have become much much better about it over the last 2 years. In fact, I just turned down a project two days ago that was amazing money but just didn’t fit with my availability. In the past I would have taken it but then burned myself out trying to make it work. Saying NO, even when it’s hard, means I can say YES to the things that matter most… and sometimes what matters most is sanity and margin. : )

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree, Daniel. I have done this several times this year. It is so worth it.

  • Chaz Clark

    I am a few chapters into this book and think its great! thanks for the recommendation.

  • Katherine Hyde

    I can imagine myself implementing this strategy with some famous words: “I prefer not to.” And where I have discretion, I’m doing that more and more. But as an employee, especially with a very small company, one doesn’t always have that option. I have to do many tasks that are not the best use of my time because there’s no one else to do them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      He talks about some strategies for dealing with those situations, too. Thanks.

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    I started reading Essentialism last week. It’s already the best book I’ve read all year – maybe in the last several years!

    My thinking and behaviors have already begun improving – my mind and path is clearer.

    Thanks for recommending it – I ordered it after your first tweet a couple of weeks ago.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Michael. I’m so glad.

  • Nadia McDonald

    This article is very motivating. In this era of evolving technology and modern advances in education, everyone in my opinion is fighting for fame and popularity. People are loosing their
    family values and their morals due to lack of sleep, travel and incessant business meetings.
    Everyone wants a crack at success, but consequently it leads to lengthy emails, busy schedules,
    perpetual board meetings and the demand for marketing. Therefore, I salute the essentialists because they manage their time wisely, and prioritize what’s important in their lives.

  • http://www.clarkgaither.com A. Clark Gaither, MD

    Wow! I needed this Michael. I love the concept of Essentialism and it I think it is especially relevant today. Looks like the road to FOCUS may just be through the gates of Essentialism. Greg just sold another book.

  • Ann07

    Hey there, Micheal. Very eye opening!

    I often have experiences when I lose the opportunity and a lot of other things, because I never
    learned to stand up for myself.

    Never learned to say no or yes to the right situations.

    When I make the wrong choices, let the chances go or let someone have that opportunity, I exclaim in our language “Sayang!” (what a waste or shame) that should have been me. But, maybe I wasn’t the one cut out for it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ann07

    P.S I found this post shared at Kingged.com try checking it out!

  • http://rayedwards.com/about/ Ray Edwards

    Michael, sometimes I think we must be listening to the same “radio station”. I just started reading this book, and it’s been a real eye-opener. As a result, I have recently turned down several “good” opportunities, because while they were “good”, they weren’t “best”. And just last week, I gently terminated my one standing client agreement, because what is essential right now is that I focus on MY business and the major project we have coming up. Timely post, and reassuring. Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Ray. It is interesting how things just seem to be “in the air.”

  • Lynn Hare

    Michael, this post speaks directly to the every-burgeoning difficulty of keeping my priorities in balance. Your post gives me the momentum to make a course correction on my time-keeping by praying & asking the Holy Spirit when to say yes and when to say no. As I fine-tune my understanding of my mission and purpose, the process becomes critical. Thanks for the brilliant post!

  • http://www.twitter.com/erikjfisher/ Erik Fisher

    I try to stay up to speed on this space, so it surprised me I hadn’t heard of this book. Since you recommend it so highly, it is now essential that I read Essentialism.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of it, Erik. Greg would make an awesome interview, I’m sure.

  • http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com Rachael DeBruin

    This is the very thing I have been thinking about over the past few months…in essence I’ve realized I need to make many ‘cuts’, but haven’t felt sure as to which aspects or compartments of my life.
    This can be overwhelming at times, especially when we’ve already taken on too much and don’t feel right simply letting things fall to the ground, as it were.
    I am learning to say no, but I can foresee this being an area that constantly needs re-straightening in the future~especially for us “do”-a-holics!

  • chrisreal3

    Okay, I’m going to get this book…any suggestions on Audible.com or physical? (In other words, is this book more concept and motivation or do you need to take notes in the margins?)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I bought both. I listened to the Audible edition while running and then came back and read it on my Kindle. I ended up highlighting a lot!

  • Danny L. Smith

    Thanks for the recommendation Michael. I originally saw your post on Facebook. Great read, and post above.

  • http://daniel-bachmann.com/ Daniel Bachmann

    Michael, what a truly great blog post that reasonates with all those who aim for a fullfilling life but even more for those who may have forgotten about it. I read you blog since some time and it’s by far my most favorite place to read so I decided to comment on your posts more often!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Daniel. I appreciate your commenting!

  • Charlie Pomeroy

    My son CJ sent me information on Michael Nichols which led me to you Michael. I’m reading after both of you at this time and appreciate the great information, especially this one. I just downloaded the book and look forward to making some adjustments in my personal and business life. Thanks again!

  • sabdalian

    Thanks for the summary on this book. Dan Miller highly recommended it and I have it on my to-buy list! I just recently wrote a blog post on people pleasing and talk a lot about the Power of Choice. I am going to share you post with my audience because I think they will really enjoy it!

  • http://firstthingsproductivity.com/ Brandon Vaughn

    Thanks so much Michael for the recommendation of this book. It is AMAZING, and like a modern day Covey book. If anyone is interested, I’m doing an online book study, chapter by chapter, on my First Things podcast: http://FirstThingsProductivity.com/

  • http://www.menestysvoima.fi Vesa Vuorinen

    Thank you for sharing this profound, helpful and liberating truth about (modern) life :-) I’m really happy to stumble upon the book Essentialism in your blog. I’m ordering the book righ away!

  • http://thebizfarmer.com/ Angela Moore

    How did I miss this post five months ago?! I LOVE this book and principles! Just read it this weekend after reading Stu M’s recent post on it. My immediate takeaway: “WIN” -What’s Important Now. That’s my family/kids, first. Making an impact in lives of others, second. I’m working on figuring out how to eliminate more of the nonessential so I can do those two things more and better.

  • Steven Allyn Chen

    Hi Michael, I’m right now reading Adam’s Book Give and Take, and I somewhat have a feeling that both of their ideas clash on between saying yes and no. The other saying yes strategically and this one saying yes only to those that are truly important. Please let me know if I’m missing an important point here. Thank you very much.

  • http://preachdatruth.blogspot.com/ Paul Horne

    I am a seminary student just getting started in my career path. I have been asked to guest blog for a several sites now and have spoken at a few churches. You speak of being choosy about what you do. However I think for me trying to get exposure to preaching and getting my writing out to the world, should I be more selective or grateful for the opportunities? I think the latter. Curious as to what recommendations you would give a young man in my situation.
    God Bless,

    Paul