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After spending 6 weeks implementing the 5 practices McKeown suggests in his book Essentialism in my work life,  I soon realized it could not help but overflow into my personal life. Weaving all 5 steps into my everyday life proved essential to move the needle towards simply needing less, and in return getting MORE!  I begin to practice by putting my phone away in a drawer, that is steps away from my office. This allowed the ESCAPE. I needed to reduce distractions and give myself time to think. Phoneless, I could concentrate on the task at hand, and not allow my mind (or body) to wander.


Second, I implemented the app Toggl, allowed me to LOOK at how I spent my work day. Toggl allows you to track time during your day, tag essential tasks, and provides a visual graph at the end of the week depicting the percentage of time spent in each task area. These tasks range from client work, to administrative tasks, to sharpening the “saw,” to creating processes. Using Toggl, coupled with daily journaling, showed me the BIG PICTURE of how my hours are spent, and where I needed to put more effort to keeping the critical items up front. Within 2 weeks I realized if I was focused on the most significant tasks during the work day, I was allowed precious time during the evenings and on weekends to get back to what is essential in my personal life. Which has resulted in a fantastic work life balance!


If you recall from my blog post, Essentialism Part 1, Another goal I wanted to tackle was getting out to PLAY. I began a Public Display of Accountability (PDA) exercise text group of friends that agreed to work out together first thing in the morning. The PDA included a #proveit selfie to ensure each member got their exercise done for the day if we couldn’t be all together in the mornings. Not only did I have my accountability group of peers, but I began to ask my colleagues to hold me accountable as well. I am well into my 6th week of the group, and we have established a rapport of respect, positive motivation, encouragement, laughter, and overall a better sense of self.


After a full hour of PLAY (exercise) each morning, and after a full work day, it was no wonder I began to SLEEP better. I worked to develop a sleep routine in the evenings which helps cue my body to wind down, it was time for sleep. This routine includes turning off overhead lighting, 20-30 minutes of easy reading, and avoiding phone calls after 9:00 PM. These simple actions easily allows my mind and body to be restored ready for the early wake up call to get the day started. I could easily lay my head down on the pillow, knowing I had a fulfilled day, and couldn’t wait to get up to start the next day! I stopped waking up in the middle of the night with worry, wondering how I was going to get “it all done”.  This was peace.


Through the habit of removing the phone and other distractions, TOGGL, PDA groups, and sleeping well, I could begin the SELECTive process in regards to getting more out of needing less. I began blocking off time on my work calendar for specific work. I create mini goals that are easily obtainable during my work day, and I can pat myself on the back knowing they are not only completed, but completed well.  Having a visual on my calendar gave me discernment on how to spend the time on the varying tasks. I began doing the less favorable tasks in the mornings, and looking ahead to favorable tasks in the afternoon.


I see the light in Essentialism, and how the end result not only made me a better workmate, but also a better housemate. Essentialism is just that – getting back to what is required for fulfillment and sustainment in today’s busy distracting world.  Now I ask you, to join me in the PDA exercise- ask about the safe drawer where my phone is kept?; how my TOGGL is going, how many calories were burnt in the daily work out?; how many hours of restful, peaceful sleep did I get last night?;  and what are those favorable tasks I am most looking forward to in the afternoon hours?

Author Haley O'Brien

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