ADHD and Essentialism

JustSayNo1Have you heard of the term “Essentialism”? I hadn’t either until last week when I read a great book by Greg McKeown that explained all about it. It’s a brilliant strategy that every ADD entrepreneur can benefit from.

The Essentialism concept

The basic concept is to focus on a few things and do them very well.

One of the examples in the book is about Sam, an executive who said “yes” to lots of requests. He dashed from one meeting to the next trying to please people. He was stressed, people were frustrated with him because the quality of his work had gone down, and he wasn’t getting any job satisfaction.

Then he made a change. He started to say “no” to requests and stopped volunteering to do things. Much to his surprise, people weren’t mad, in fact they respected him more. With his new-found time, Sam was able to focus on the things that did matter. He was able to do his work really well, which pleased his clients. Better still, he really enjoyed the process.

What happens when you implement Essentialism

When you start implementing Essentialism into your life, your day stops disappearing to other people’s agendas and your own distractions of “busyness”.

When you focus on a few things you enjoy doing and are good at, you don’t feel frazzled, “stretched too thin”, overworked, or unsatisfied.

It’s a bit like pruning a bush. You chop off the thin branches at the side that take energy but aren’t adding to the strength or height of the bush.

My challenge to you

My challenge to you this week is to look at your agenda and decide what you are going to start to say “no” to. Start with the easy things. Then that will give you confidence to start saying “no” to more and more things.

Let us know how you get on!
Jacqui Sinfield is an ADHD Coach and author. You can find more from her at


  1. The hardest challenge I have is saying “No” to myself … as a small business owner in a rapidly changing industry it’s easy to keep finding new (and exciting) things to do … it drives my wife (and business partner) bonkers that I’m always searching for the ‘next big thing’ instead of just completing and delivering on what we already have.

    Is there a guide for SAE (Self Administered Essentialism) and a way to keep oneself on track even when there so many temptations on the other side of the hill?

    The tricky with Adult ADHD is that you really do think you’re making rational choices at the time and have no objective metric against which to evaluate your ‘pinball’ behavior – it’s only afterwards that it comes to you that it was your ADD brain making sub-optimal decisions on the fly.


    • Hi Neil
      The best way to stay on track and focus on the important things is get very clear on what your essentialism things are (they don’t change often) Then keep them in the forefront or you mind, and write down of pieces of paper and dot them around your office as a reminder. Then, when you are in the middle of your day and notice you are off on a tangent, its easier to pull yourself to the essential things.
      When Marcia had her company she would ask herself questions about every 30 minutes. Things like ‘should I be doing this now?’ and ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ as a way to stay focused on her most important tasks.
      Hope that helps!!

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