Inside: Learn five ways to embrace essentialism in your life and achieve more even while doing less.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff on your to-do list?

Do important tasks seem to slip through the cracks because you’re constantly putting out fires and shifting your priorities? 

You could benefit from embracing essentialism in your life.

Essentialism is all about focusing on the essentials in life – the things that truly matter most to you – and finding ways to eliminate all of the noise and chaos that pulls you away from them.

By maximizing your time and reserving your energy for the things that are necessary, you’ll invite more simplicity and ease into your life, experience less stress, and find more fulfillment from the things you are doing. 

embrace essentialism in your life

5 Simple Ways to Embrace Essentialism In Your Life

Embracing essentialism might sound a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

By taking a few simple actions to find your focus and figure out where you should be spending your energy – and taking action to live a life more reflective of those priorities – you might be surprised to see how much of a difference you can make. 

1. Clearly identify your priorities.

Since essentialism is truly about focusing on the essential, a good place to start is evaluating and identifying your priorities.

By clearly articulating what matters most to you, you can sort the tasks that are taking up your valuable time into two distinct buckets – tasks that truly make a difference and move the needle toward achieving your goals and priorities, and ones that don’t.

Now, to be clear, embracing essentialism doesn’t mean shirking all responsibilities in the name of personal ambitions or priorities.

Chances are, living in a safe, well-maintained home matters very much to you – which means you’ll still need to pay your bills, clean your space, and generate an income.

But it does mean that you can say goodbye to lots of tasks that consume your time that don’t add much value to your life, like social obligations that don’t fill your cup.  

“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.” ~Greg McKeown

woman writing in planner

2. Cut back on non-essential tasks.

One of the first things you should do when you’re trying to embrace essentialism in your life is take a holistic look at how you spend your time. What do your days look like? What about your weeks?

An easy way to do this is to put it all on paper. Walk through your average day and write down everything you do – yes, everything.

From brushing your teeth and making your bed to the time you spend scrolling through social media or watching television, capture as many of your tasks and activities as possible. You may even want to do this in real-time, over the course of a day or two.

Then, sit down and evaluate what you’re spending your time on. Do you notice any time wasters? What are you doing that adds value and aligns with your priorities? What are you doing that serves as a distraction and takes away from the things that matter to you? 

By decluttering the excess you can boost your productivity and free up your time for what really matters.

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It 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 our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” ~Greg McKeown

embrace essentialism in your life

3. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”

Once you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to make them your focus – and eliminate the excess. It’s time to start saying “no.” 

And for many of us, that’s easier said than done.

Saying “no” might involve turning down potential plans with friends, or declining a request for a favor.

It might involve saying no to yourself to stay on budget – choosing to cook a healthy meal at home instead of indulging in take-out, or resisting the urge to splurge on new clothes that you don’t need. 

But while saying “no” might feel challenging at the start, it’ll get easier over time. Like a muscle, your ability to step away from the things that no longer serve you takes less effort the more you practice it.

Saying no is an important part of embracing essentialism in your life and it’s also a habit that will help prevent overwhelm too.

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

minimalist work area

4. Simplify your environment. 

Cutting back on plans and activities that don’t serve you is one way to embrace essentialism in your life. Another easy way to do it? Simplify your environment.

Look around your home. Chances are, you have a lot more stuff than you really need. By taking a similar approach to simplifying your schedule, you can make your environment a lot easier to navigate and maintain. 

Write down your priorities when it comes to your environment and how you spend your time in it. Do you love to cook complicated dishes and try new techniques in the kitchen – or do your specialty appliances and utensils sit around unused, collecting dust and taking up space?

Do you spend most of your time lounging in your living room or chilling in your bedroom – and do you feel like those spaces are reflective of the amount of time you spend there? 

What about your work area? Is it helping you to embrace essentialism in your life or is it filled with distractions and clutter?

By putting your time and energy into the spaces that align with your priorities and simplifying the ones that don’t, you can make your environment work in your favor as you pursue a lifestyle rooted in essentialism.

Not sure where to start? Consider these 10 areas to declutter that will save you time.

“What if society stopped telling us to buy more stuff and instead allowed us to create more space to breathe and think? What if society encouraged us to reject what has been accurately described as doing things we detest, to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like?” ~Greg McKeown

friends enjoying a bike ride

5. Celebrate the downtime. 

One result of your newfound essentialism? You might find yourself with more downtime than ever before.

It can be shocking to see just how much time you can reclaim for yourself when you stick to your priorities and say “no” to things that aren’t truly necessary – and for some, having so much spare time can feel a little overwhelming in itself. 

But it isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – it’s something to be celebrated.

Savor those moments you’ve reclaimed. Look for and notice the simple joys in life. Put on your favorite playlist and listen to some music, or spend that time catching up on your want-to-read list.

Head to a nearby park and take a walk or sit outside on your patio with your favorite beverage. Meditate, or journal, or explore a new hobby that’s always piqued your interest. Or catch up on some much-needed rest. 

When we’re so used to feeling busy, it can be hard to enjoy time for yourself without feeling a little bit of guilt. But by pushing those feelings aside and really leaning into the calmness and freedom that essentialism can bring, you’ll find a world of benefits.

“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

embrace essentialism in your life

Want to learn more about essentialism?

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please note that I only recommend products I use and love. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

If you want to dive deeper into the topic of essentialism, I highly recommend checking out Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

His insights and thoughts can help you consider a fresh perspective on how you spend your time and what’s most important in your life.

“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

How do you plan to embrace essentialism in your life? Let us know in the comments.

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