Greg McKeown essentialism podcast episode

Ep34: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | with Greg McKeown

Less…but better.

Sounds like an oxymoron, but I promise adopting this mantra can change your life.

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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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • 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 Resources Mentioned:

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Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

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,, Symantec, Twitter, VMware and Yahoo!.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”