[Podcast] Ep81: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (And Learning How to Say No)

Modern technology has changed everything about our lives, and while in some ways it has simplified things, in other ways technology has massively complicated every hour of the day for us. We are no longer human beings, we have simply become extensions of our technology.

Clients expect quicker turnarounds, we are surrounded by endless distractions, we take on more projects than we can handle, and the consequences are being endlessly busy (but less productive), stressed out, and losing the necessary time to think critically about our lives and what we want to accomplish during our short time here on earth.

In this episode I speak with New York Times best-selling author Greg McKeown about his book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” and how this simple philosophy can massively change the direction and quality of your life (as it has my own).

As an added bonus, this episode will also teach you how to say ‘No’ and not feel guilty afterwards.

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Topics of conversation:

  • What is essentialism? – The disciplined pursuit of “less but better”
  • The root causes of non-essentialism (read: how we got so busy but less productive)
  • Bragging about being busy and what that means
  • The “busy-ness bubble”
  • Do you remember what it was like to be bored?
  • The three steps to applying essentialism
  • The importance of journaling and making a prioritized list
  • Stop saying “yes” and learn the magic word…. NO! Be selective with your time!
  • “The key is to figure out what is essential and you utilize that…to negotiate non-essentials”
  • How to apply essentialism to the freelance world
  • Don’t just edit in the timeline…start editing your life!
  • “The perks of being unavailable” and FOMO
  • Finding a system for creating space to think and enjoy your creative endeavors
  • “Protect the asset” and stop bragging about not getting sleep — it’s just as bad as being drunk at work!
  • It’s not about how many hours, it’s about how many GOOD hours (less but better)
  • The difference between “ok” and “hell yes!”
  • Don’t let others determine your schedule

Useful Links:


Twitter: gregorymckeown

LinkedIn: Greg McKeown

Guest Bio:

Originally from London, England, Greg McKeown is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” and the founder of THIS, Inc, a company with a mission to inspire millions of people to design their essential mission in life. Their clients include Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Cisco, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Salesforce.com, Symantec, Twitter, VMware and Yahoo!.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, the show notes were prepared by Natalie Boschan, and this show is executive produced by Kanen Flowers. We are a member of the THAT STUDIO podcast network.

The music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Dorian Cheah from his brilliant album ARA.


Zack Arnold is an award-winning film & television editor (Burn Notice, Empire, Shooter, Glee), member of the American Cinema Editors, a documentary director (GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story), and creator of the Optimize Yourself program (formerly ‘Fitness In Post’). He helps ambitious creative professionals like you learn how to more efficiently manage your time, energy, and attention so you can maximize your creative focus and minimize procrastination, depression, and burnout. After all, what’s the point of killing yourself for the sake of your career if you don’t have energy to spare for the most important people in your life?