The one sentence summary

Not everything has to be so hard – you can make it easier to do what matters most.

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  • You can make it easier to focus by creating an effortless state, concentrating on effortless action and getting the highest return on the least effort.
  • In an exhausting approach, you think that anything worth doing takes tremendous effort, you try too hard, overcomplicate, overengineer, overthink and overdo, and so what you get is burnout and none of the results you want.
  • In an effortless approach, you realise that the most essential things can be the easiest ones, you find the easier path, and get the right results without burning out.
  • To achieve this, start with:
    • Invert: what if this could be easy?
    • Enjoy: what if this could be fun?
    • Release: let go and enjoy the relief
    • Rest: consider the art of doing nothing
    • Notice: see things clearly for what they are
  • Effortless action involves:
    • Define: what ‘done’ looks like
    • Start: work out the first obvious action
    • Simplify: start with zero and take it from there
    • Progress: have the courage to be rubbish
    • Pace: slow is smooth, smooth is fast
  • For effortless results:
    • Learn: leverage the best of what others know
    • Lift: harness the strength of other people’s views and efforts
    • Automate: do it once and never again
    • Trust: the engine of high-leverage teams
    • Prevent: solve the problem before it happens
    • Now: what happens next matters most


  • When your efforts yield a one-time benefit, you get a linear result. With residual results you put the effort in once and reap the benefits again and again.
  • The effortless state is prevented by many of our 6,000 thoughts a day, including outdated assumptions, complaining, burdens, anger, grudges, fear, distractions and exhaustion.
  • A lack state involves focusing on what you lack, whereas a have state is much better (what is going right, what progress you are making, and what potential you see).
  • The simplest steps are the ones you don’t take. No matter how simple the step, it’s still easier to take no step. Remove all possible steps and maximise the steps not taken. What are the minimum steps required for completion? Adding unnecessary embellishments is unwise: being asked to do X isn’t a good enough reason to do Y.
  • Dedicate mornings to essential work, break it down into three sessions of no more than 90 minutes, and take a 10-minute break in between each.
  • Dali had a technique for capturing the thoughts you have just before falling asleep. Take a nap with keys in your hand and a plate on the floor below – as soon as you drift off, the keys fall and wake you up. Then you capture your thought.
  • When something is done it’s done. Subsequent light tinkering has a heavy cost.
  • Swedish death cleaning means getting rid of the clutter you have accumulated while you are still alive.
  • The ‘now’ we experience only lasts 2.5 seconds.
  • Burnout is not a badge of honour.


  • Those who have read the author’s first book, Essentialism, will find it fairly similar.