Book Review: Effortless

  |   Books Print Friendly and PDF

I loved Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I gave it a rave review on my site and on Amazon in 2016. It’s one of a small number of books I review often. I bought Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most because Essentialism was such a great book.

I also wanted to answer an important question that Essentialism didn’t answer for me. I wanted to know what you did if you pared things down all you can, and it still wasn’t enough. What if you still had too much to do? What if the question is capacity?

Effortless purports to answer that question.

McKeown tackles the purpose of the book and the answer to my question in a statement at the very end of the book. Here it is:

“If you take away just one message from this book, I hope it is this: 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.”

Effortless? Not exactly.

My friend Terry Moore likes to say, “Every significant thing you’ve ever done was hard.” Terry means it won’t be magical and automatic, you’ll have to do some work. He’s talking about change. He’s talking about the need for discipline.

Greg McKeown doesn’t use effortless to mean magical or easy either. Instead, he means not assuming the more effort you put in, the better. He means not equating effortful work with better work. He means looking for an easier alternative to everything. Sometimes, the easier alternative is just not doing something.

In a Nutshell

In 2016, I wrote this in my review of Essentialism: “If you want to clean out the closet of your life, buy this book and do the work. It will make a difference.”

For Effortless, I suggest something else. If you want to make the work you do and the life you live less onerous, absorb and apply the central message of this book. As Greg McKeown puts it “Essentialism was about doing the right things; Effortless is about doing them in the right way.”

Reading Suggestions

If you have not read Essentialism, I suggest reading it before you read Effortless. That will give you the context and framework to learn more from Effortless.

I always review the Table of Contents before I begin reading a book for a quick overview of what’s ahead and how the pieces will fit together. Greg McKeown wrote an “Effortless Summary” you can use to review the book before and as you read. The Effortless Summary comes right before the Conclusion.

Good Companion Reads

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with The New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland

You can check out some of my highlights and notes from this book on GoodReads.


What’s the fastest way to learn the big ideas from a great business book? Book summaries. Check out summaries from The Business Source, where you can watch, read, or listen to the big ideas from a great book in under 20 minutes.

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

There are no comments yet, why not be the first to leave a comment?