Essentialism by Greg McKeown
“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”
I have seen this book mentioned on many a minimalist blog, and love the way McKeown addresses paring down your mental load and your daily schedule to make time for the important and for joy in your life. Minimalism often starts by being about stuff, but anyone who dives into it realizes that it's not actually about stuff, but about focusing on what is important in your life- really focusing on that, and letting go of the excess.
Although this book is full of wisdom, for the first half, I wasn't sold on it, which is funny because the reason I was put off was McKeown's smarmy tone. I definitely felt like he was trying to "sell" me on his idea, but around the mid-point, the tone of the book shifts, and it instead feels like you're having a conversation with a wise friend who has life more figured out than you do. I have read, and loved a couple of other books in this line, including Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver and Slow- Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary, both of which I enjoyed more from cover to cover than this book, however, that is not to say that this book isn't worth reading. McKeown definitely adds to the body of work out there on this topic, and offers some business and leadership viewpoints in his book that the others don't address. If you're looking for a cozy chat with a girlfriend about living a simpler, less cluttered (mental and physical) life, I'd recommend the books just mentioned, but if you're seeking a sterner, to the point, more masculine point of view, I'd heartily recommend McKeown's book.
I'll leave you with one last quote from McKeown.
“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”
This guy knows what he's talking about.