Not everything has to be so hard.
In our modern world we try to be high-achievers because we have been conditioned to believe that the path to success is paved with relentless work. If we want to overachieve, we have to overexert, overthink, and overdo. If we aren’t perpetually exhausted, it means that we are not doing enough.
But the more exhausted we are, the harder it is to make progress. We end up working twice as hard to achieve half as much.
In (#AD) Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done, Greg McKeown explains that getting ahead doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. No matter what challenges or obstacles we face, there is a better way: instead of pushing ourselves harder, we can find an easier path. Effortless offers actionable advice for making the most essential activities the easiest ones, so that we can achieve the results we want, without burning out.
Top 40 Best Quotes from “Effortless”
“Perfectionism makes essential projects hard to start, self-doubt makes them hard to finish, and trying to do too much, too fast, makes it hard to sustain momentum.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Strangely, some of us respond to feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by vowing to work even harder and longer. It doesn’t help that our culture glorifies burnout as a measure of success and self-worth. The implicit message is that if we aren’t perpetually exhausted, we must not be doing enough. That great things are reserved for those who bleed, for those who almost break. Crushing volume is somehow now the goal. Burnout is not a badge of honor.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“the complexity of modern life has created a false dichotomy between things that are “essential and hard” and things that are “easy and trivial.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Life doesn’t have to be as hard and complicated as we make it. Each of us has — as Robert Frost wrote — “Promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” No matter what challenges, obstacles or hardships we encounter along the way, we can always look for the easier, simpler path.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most
“Past a certain point, more effort doesn’t produce better performance. It sabotages our performance. Economists call this the law of diminishing returns:” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“If you want to make something hard, indeed truly impossible, to complete, all you have to do is make the end goal as vague as possible.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“By pairing essential activities with enjoyable ones, we can make tackling even the most tedious and overwhelming tasks more effortless.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Do not do more today than you can completely recover from today. Do not do more this week than you can completely recover from this week.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“To avoid diminishing returns on your time and effort, establish clear conditions for what “done” looks like, get there, then stop.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“A Done for the Day list is not a list of everything we theoretically could do today, or a list of everything we would love to get done. These things will inevitably extend far beyond the limited time available. Instead, this is a list of what will constitute meaningful and essential progress.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“What if, rather than fighting our preprogrammed instinct to seek the easiest path, we could embrace it, even use it to our advantage? What if, instead of asking, “How can I tackle this really hard but essential project?,” we simply inverted the question and asked, “What if this essential project could be made easy?” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things
“There is no such thing as an effortless relationship. But there are ways we can make it easier to keep a relationship strong. We don’t need to agree with the other person on everything. But we do need to be present with them, to really notice them, to give them our full attention—maybe not always, but as frequently as we can.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“What is the Effortless State? The Effortless State is an experience many of us have had when we are physically rested, emotionally unburdened, and mentally energized. You are completely aware, alert, present, attentive, and focused on what’s important in this moment. You are able to focus on what matters most with ease.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Getting more sleep may be the single greatest gift we can give our bodies, our minds, and even, it turns out, our bottom lines.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“What job have I hired this grudge to do?” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most
“Even if we manage a full night’s sleep, unless enough of that sleep is in a deep state, we’ll suffer from sleep deprivation. Unlike in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, in the deep sleep stage, your body and brain waves slow down. This is the stage where information is stored in long-term memory, learning and emotions are processed, the immune system is energized, and the body recovers. Healthy adults spend an average of 13 to 23 percent of their night in deep sleep. So if you sleep for seven hours, that translates to just fifty to one hundred minutes in a deep state. Each minute, in other words, is precious.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Reading a book is among the most high-leverage activities on earth.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Gaining unique knowledge takes time, dedication, and effort. But invest in it once, and you’ll attract opportunities for the rest of your life.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Remember: When you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have. When you focus on what you have, you get what you lack” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“In recent years neuroscientists and psychologists have found that the “now” we experience lasts only 2.5 seconds.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Looking at that first step or action through the lens of 2.5 seconds is the change that makes every other change possible. It is the habit of habits.” ― Greg McKeown, Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done
“Producing a great result is good. Producing a great result with ease is better. Producing a great result with ease again and again is best.” ― Greg McKeown
“Why would we simply endure essential activities when we can enjoy them instead?” ― Greg McKeown
“What if the biggest thing keeping us from doing what matters is the false assumption that it has to take tremendous effort? What if, instead, we considered the possibility that the reason something feels hard is that we haven’t yet found the easier way to do it?” ― Greg McKeown
“essential work can be enjoyable once we put aside the Puritan notion that anything worth doing must entail backbreaking effort.” ― Greg McKeown
“We are conditioned over the course of our lifetimes to believe that in order to overachieve we must also overdo. As a result, we make things harder for ourselves than they need to be.” ― Greg McKeown
“Essentialism was about doing the right things; Effortless is about doing them in the right way.” ― Greg McKeown
“Overachievers tend to struggle with the notion of starting with rubbish; they hold themselves to a high standard of perfection at every stage in the process. But the standard to which they hold themselves is neither realistic nor productive.” ― Greg McKeown
“He teaches his language students to imagine they have a bag full of one thousand beads. Every time they make a mistake talking to someone else in the language they take out one bead. When the bag is empty they will have achieved level 1 mastery. The faster they make those mistakes, the faster they will progress.” ― Greg McKeown
“Holding back when you still have steam in you might seem like a counterintuitive approach to getting important things done, but in fact, this kind of restraint is key to breakthrough productivity.” ― Greg McKeown
“Whether it’s “miles per day” or “words per day” or “hours per day,” there are few better ways to achieve effortless pace than to set an upper bound.” ― Greg McKeown
“One study found that by training our attentional muscles we can improve our processing of complex information moving at great speed.” ― Greg McKeown
“Listening isn’t hard; it’s stopping our mind from wandering that’s hard. Being in the moment isn’t hard; not thinking about the past and future all the time is hard. It’s not the noticing itself that’s hard. It’s ignoring all the noise in our environment that is hard.” ― Greg McKeown
“Arianna Huffington used to buy into the notion that anything worth doing required superhuman effort. But she has since said that she didn’t become truly successful until she stopped overworking herself. “It’s also our collective delusion that overwork and burnout are the price we must pay in order to succeed,” she says.” ― Greg McKeown
“Have you ever found that the more you complain—and the more you read and hear other people complain—the easier it is to find things to complain about? On the other hand, have you ever found that the more grateful you are, the more you have to be grateful for?” ― Greg McKeown
“We can do the following: Dedicate mornings to essential work. Break down that work into three sessions of no more than ninety minutes each. Take a short break (ten to fifteen minutes) in between sessions to rest and recover.” ― Greg McKeown
“People who sleep less than seven hours a night are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, asthma, arthritis, depression, and diabetes and are almost eight times more likely to be overweight.” ― Greg McKeown
“Simplicity—the art of maximizing the steps not taken—is essential.” ― Greg McKeown
“Each of us has an inner teacher, a voice of truth, that offers the guidance and power we need to deal with our problems.” ― Greg McKeown
“to get an important project done it’s absolutely necessary to define what “done” looks like.” ― Greg McKeown
About Greg McKeown
Greg McKeown is the author of the new book (#AD) Effortless: Make It Easy to Get the Right Things Done, and a previous book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, which hit The New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than a million copies. He is also a speaker and the host of the popular podcast What’s Essential.
Greg has been covered by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Fast Company, Fortune, Politico, and Inc., has been interviewed by NPR, NBC, Fox, and The Steve Harvey Show, and is among the most popular bloggers for LinkedIn. He is also a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum. Originally from London, England, he now resides in California with his wife, Anna, and their four children. He is a Bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.