Effortless – Greg McKeown

“Not everything has to be so hard.”

The tagline for this book is “Make it easier to do what matters most”, and I am all for that sentiment! I haven’t read Greg McKeown’s previous book, Essentialism, but while that was about doing the right things (rather than trying to do more), this is about asking if those things can be done with less stress and/or effort.

It’s split into three parts: Effortless State, Effortless Action, and Effortless Results. The first asks you to look again at the things that you’re doing – one assumes, I suppose, that you’ve read this first book so these are the essential things that do need done! Then question, can it be made easier, can it even be fun? Or, sure, another round of ‘do I even need/want this at all’? Overall, this section is about improving focus.

We then move on to action. Once you’ve pondered your tasks, you do still have to get on with them. Can this be made easier? This section was the real ‘meat’ for me, I really resonated with the breakdown of various ways to in effect tackle procrastination: decide in advance what ‘done’ looks like – there’s no need to give 110% to everything – and then if you’re stuck find a tiny first action. Also the whole ‘give yourself permission to be rubbish’, especially while learning – progress is far more important than perfectionism. The final chapter in this section is titled, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast”, which is a pretty good slogan.

The final section on results considered the concept of linear versus residual efforts. In other words, what can you do – maybe with a bit of extra effort up front – that will have returns beyond this one time? Some of this felt a little ‘yeah, but..’ to me – I think it’s quite a privileged position to be able to set things up like this – but yeah, as a goal it’s a good way of looking at things. I also really wanted to send the bit about teams and trust around my work, it was fantastically well summarised!

A few minor ‘hmms’ aside, I really liked most of the advice given here AND the way it was given. The tone is very friendly and non-condescending, but with exactly the right amount of confidence.

Overall, then, I really liked this book and the mainly very common sense advice it contained. I’ll be reading it again, which is the mark of a good non-fiction for me: means it held knowledge I really want to absorb! I’m also going to pick up a copy of Essentialism soon, too.

NetGalley eARC: 272 pages / 15 chapters
First published: 2021
Series: follow up to Essentialism
Read from 3rd-22nd April 2021

My rating: 9/10

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