93+ Essentialism Quotes And Summary (Book By Greg McKeown)

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

Best QuotesWhat Is Essentialism?Deep And InspiringHealthPrioritizingQuestionsSummary

If you feel a little overwhelmed in life,

read these 93+ amazing quotes from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by Greg McKeown.

But who’s Greg McKeown?

But most of all, he has dedicated his professional life to uncovering counterintuitive ways to be very successful – without burning out.

I’ve decided to read this book (again) and create this list since it contains so many lessons on:

  • Life
  • Simplicity
  • Priorities
  • And more!

As a minimalist, this book speaks to my core.

I hope you’ll enjoy these quotes as much as I did.

P.S. Also check out the summary at the end.

essentialism greg mckeown

Buy the book here: AudioPaperbackHardcover

The Best Quotes From Essentialism

essentialism quotes greg mckeown dont prioritize someone else will wisdom

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. Greg McKeown

If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no. Greg McKeown

When we really have clarity of purpose, it enables us to succeed at our endeavor. Greg McKeown

The reality of trade-offs: We can’t have it all or do it all. Greg McKeown

What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives. Greg McKeown

Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. Greg McKeown

The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. Greg McKeown

See what really matters. Greg McKeown


essentialism quotes greg mckeown almost everything noise exceptionally valuable wisdom

Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. Greg McKeown

To become an Essentialist requires a heightened awareness of our ability to choose. Greg McKeown

If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Greg McKeown

Essentialism: Only once you give yourself 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 McKeown

Three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.” Greg McKeown

We can choose how to spend our energy and time. Greg McKeown


What Is Essentialism? What is an Essentialist?

essentialism quotes greg mckeown relentless pursuit less better wisdom

The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better. Greg McKeown

Focusing on the essentials is a choice. It is your choice. That in itself is incredibly liberating. Greg McKeown

Essentialism is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not. Greg McKeown

Anytime you fail to say ‘no’ to a nonessential, you are really saying yes by default. Greg McKeown

This book is not about going back to some simpler time. It’s not about eschewing email or disconnecting from the Web or living like a hermit. That would be backwards movement. It is about applying the principles of ‘less but better’ to how we live our lives now and in the future. That is innovation. Greg McKeown

Non-essentialist thinks that making things better means adding something. Essentialist thinks that making things better means subtracting something. Greg McKeown

Essentialism is not one more thing — it’s a whole new way of doing everything. Greg McKeown



essentialism quotes greg mckeown not about get more things done wisdom

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. Greg McKeown

We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health. Greg McKeown

The Essentialist designs a routine that makes achieving what you have identified as essential the default position. Greg McKeown

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Greg McKeown

Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. Greg McKeown

Instead of trying to accomplish it all — and all at once — and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Greg McKeown

essentialism quotes greg mckeown non essentialist thinks everything essential wisdom

A non-Essentialist thinks almost everything is essential. An Essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential. Greg McKeown

The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is a path to new levels of success and meaning. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Greg McKeown

In many ways, to live as an Essentialist in our too-many-things-all-the-time society is an act of quiet revolution. Greg McKeown

An Essentialist produces more — brings forth more — by removing more instead of doing more. Greg McKeown

Essentialists accept they cannot be popular with everyone all of the time. Greg McKeown

Deep And Inspiring Quotes From Essentialism

essentialism quotes greg mckeown say yes nonessential saying no wisdom

When you say yes to something nonessential, you are saying no to something essential. Greg McKeown

When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices — or even a function of our own past choices. Greg McKeown

When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people — our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families — will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important. Greg McKeown

Instead of making just a millimeter of progress in a million directions he began to generate tremendous momentum towards accomplishing the things that were truly vital. Greg McKeown

To operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now. Greg McKeown

The result is that by investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most. Greg McKeown

Play doesn’t just help us to explore what is essential. It is essential in and of itself. Greg McKeown

Success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place. Greg McKeown

Of all forms of human motivation the most effective one is progress. Greg McKeown


Quotes About Health, Mental Health, and Sleep from Essentialism

essentialism quotes greg mckeown need eliminate meaningless activities wisdom

We need to eliminate multiple meaningless activities and replace them with one very meaningful activity. Greg McKeown

Highly creative people use strict routines to free up their minds. Greg McKeown

Every second spent worrying about a past or future moment distracts us from what is important in the here and now. Greg McKeown

To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make. Greg McKeown

The second most important factor differentiating the best violinists from the good violinists was actually sleep. The best violinists slept an average of 8.6 hours in every twenty-four-hour period: about an hour longer than the average American. Greg McKeown

If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. Greg McKeown

The right routines can actually enhance innovation and creativity by giving us the equivalent of an energy rebate. Greg McKeown

essentialism quotes greg mckeown essentialist thinks sleep high performers priority creativity wisdom

Essentialist thinks 1) Sleep is for high performers 2) Sleep is a priority 3) Sleep breeds creativity. Greg McKeown

Sleep will enhance your ability to explore, make connections, and do less but better throughout your waking hours. Greg McKeown

Sleep is what allows us to operate at our highest level of contribution so that we can achieve more, in less time. Greg McKeown

Non-essentialist thinks sleep gets in the way of “doing it all”. Essentialist thinks sleep enables the highest levels of mental contribution. Greg McKeown

Becoming an Essentialist means making cutting, condensing, and correcting a natural part of our daily routine — making editing a natural cadence in our lives. Greg McKeown

There is a huge body of scientific research to explain the mechanism by which routine enables difficult things to become easy. Greg McKeown

Quotes About Prioritizing, Decisions, and Saying No from Essentialism

essentialism quotes greg mckeown non essentialis says yes everything matter wisdom

Non-essentialist: Says yes to everything. Essentialist: Says yes only to the things that really matter. Greg McKeown

Done right, a strategic intent is really one decision that makes 1,000 decisions. Greg McKeown

In reality there are only a few things of exceptional value, with almost everything else being of far less importance. Greg McKeown

When we push back effectively, it shows people that our time is highly valuable. It distinguishes the professional from the amateur. Greg McKeown

The Latin root of the word decision — cis or cid — literally means “to cut” or “to kill”. Greg McKeown

You’ll learn how to make executing the right things – the essential things – as easy and frictionless as possible. Greg McKeown

The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead, it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions. Greg McKeown

essentialism quotes greg mckeown either make choices deliberately agenda wisdom

We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives. Greg McKeown

The more we think about what we are giving up when we say yes to someone, the easier it is to say no. Greg McKeown

Once you’ve figured out which activities and efforts to keep in your life, you have to have a system for executing them. Greg McKeown

If your manager comes to you and asks you to do X, you can respond with “Yes, I’m happy to make this the priority. Which of these other projects should I deprioritise to pay attention to this new project?” Greg McKeown

We have lost our ability to filter what is important and what isn’t. Psychologists call this ‘decision fatigue’: the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates. Greg McKeown

[Essentialism] doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. Greg McKeown

essentialism quotes greg mckeown sometimes what dont important wisdom

Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Greg McKeown

The reality is, saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others. Greg McKeown

An Essentialist has the courage and confidence to admit his or her mistakes and uncommit, no matter the sunk costs. Greg McKeown

The next stage in the Essentialist process, eliminating the non-essentials, means taking on the role of an editor in your life and leadership. Greg McKeown

Instead of focusing on the efforts and resources we need to add, the Essentialist focuses on the constraints or obstacles we need to remove. Greg McKeown

Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential. Greg McKeown

Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend. Greg McKeown

Essentialism Questions

Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, asks great questions throughout the book.

These will help you clarify what’s essential from what’s not.

Here are the best ones.
essentialism quotes greg mckeown could excellent one thing would wisdom

If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be? Greg McKeown

Essentialism is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?” Greg McKeown

How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless? Greg McKeown

How can we cut out the trivial many? Greg McKeown

Before saying yes to anything, ask yourself, “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?” Greg McKeown

Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” The cumulative impact of this small change in thinking can be profound. Greg McKeown

To uncover your true priorities, ask yourself, “What will I say no to?” Greg McKeown

essentialism quotes greg mckeown this every most important thing right now wisdom

Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now? Greg McKeown

How often do you say yes simply to please? Or to avoid trouble? Or because “yes” had just become your default response. Greg McKeown

What are all the obstacles standing between me and getting this done? Greg McKeown

What is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the essential task we are trying to get done? Greg McKeown

Tom Stafford describes a simple antidote to the endowment effect. Instead of asking, “How much do I value this item?” we should ask, “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay to obtain it?” Greg McKeown

Instead of looking for the most obvious or immediate obstacles, they look for the ones slowing down progress. They ask, “What is getting in the way of achieving what is essential?” Greg McKeown

If I wasn’t already involved in this project, how hard would I work to get on it?” Greg McKeown

essentialism quotes greg mckeown whats important now wisdom

What’s important now? Greg McKeown

Once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking, “How can I make it all work?” and start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?” Greg McKeown

Ask three questions: “What do I feel deeply passionate about/inspired by?” and “What am I particularly talented at?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?” Greg McKeown

If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do? Greg McKeown


essentialism quotes greg mckeown clarity key empowerment wisdom

Clarity is the key to empowerment. Greg McKeown

Summary – What are the key points of Essentialism?

  • The book Essentialism is about focusing and doing the right things
  • It’s about letting go of almost everything else
  • It’s about learning to say no
  • It’s about choosing
  • It’s about taking your life under control when you feel overwhelmed
  • It’s about prioritizing what truly matters if your life: your health, your people, your projects
  • It’s about becoming your best version, by focusing on the essential

essentialism greg mckeownBuy the book here: AudioPaperbackHardcover

Further Readings

Pin this image!
essentialism quotes summary greg mckeown pinterest wisdom

I hope you enjoyed these quotes from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less.

If you did, please share them with a friend today who could benefit from more essentialism in his/her life!

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
Don't forget to share!

Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

December 3, 2022

Disclaimer: This article may include affiliate links to books and products we think are useful for our readers. If you choose buy through links on this page, we may earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. In the end, this will help WisdomQuotes become better. Thank you.