I first heard about this book from a co-worker who read it and gained a lot of insight. I thought it sounded intriguing, so I picked up a copy that day.
While it is a fast read (not a lot of pages - falls into the category of LBB (Little Business Book) - it is chockfull of goodness.
The primary point of the book is that all people are stretched too thin - whether at work, at home, at play or all places in-between. It is too easy to go from a challenged and happy "winner" to a disgruntled, disillusioned burn out without proper guidance.
While reading the book, I had several "aha" moments and knew PRECISELY what the author was getting at.
Just to be clear, like most books of this nature, I don't agree with 100% of his statements. But I can appreciate and (even better) adopt 90%+ of his recommendations. I was delighted to find that I was already doing more than a few of his process steps on my own. Reading this book allowed me to further refine, define and adopt better approach to work and life.
I took copious notes (in pencil, in the margins) and suspect I'll be referring to it many times in the future.
"Essentialism" is a quick book, but well worth your time.
I've already started to apply some of the lessons to my writing. For example, under the category of the fallacy of sunk-cost basis. For close to two decades the Concorde flew transatlantic flights between North America and Europe. While it trimmed the time of the crossing to 2.5 hours, it literally lost millions of dollars on every flight! Yet, the owners of the company were CERTAIN that if the just waited it out, things would turn around.
20 years and 20 BILLION dollars later, they stopped operations. Why did they continue? Sunk-cost basis, that's why. The irrational feeling of "well, we've come this far. We can't stop now."
WRONG! You can and should continually inspect your results, make corrections, change strategy and if nothing else works - STOP IMMEDIATELY.
I have a short story I wrote six years ago; one of my first ever. Took it to Viable Paradise where it was promptly shredded by instructors and peers alike.
Ouch. But I continually tinker with it, knowing that there is a great story in it. I just have to chip away all the crap surrounding it. BUT in the time I've spent re-jiggering the work, I could have written at least 3 or 4 new things. Reading this book explained my irrational desire to continue working on a dead horse. I might end up recycling scenes or even the basic premise, but that story is DOA.
"Essentialism" is filled with such wisdom and each day I find a new method to apply to my work and home life.
Give it a read. You won't be sorry.