The benefits of book club

December 2, 2015

Winnie Zhang
Systems Staff

A couple weeks ago, I attended the PKM Book Club meeting to discuss the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. For those of you who don’t know, the book club was initially started as a Step-Up Project by Mary Beth from the Systems group and Emily from the audit group. The book club meeting takes place every 4 to 5 months where we decide on a new book to read and to discuss at the meeting. To give you a quick summary, the book is a guide to simplifying your life; to focus on the essentials and say “no” to nonessential matters in your life.

After reading this book, I thought it was very relevant especially for the Millennials. We live in an Information Age. Everything you want to know is at the palm of your hand. You can learn how to do just about anything if you do a quick Google search and dedicate your time to it. But that’s the problem, knowing where you want to dedicate that time. When you’re a student, it is especially challenging balancing between your social life and school commitments. You’re getting pulled in different directions by your friends, but you also have obligations to finish your homework and study for the big exam that will determine if you’ll get an A or a B in that class. That’s where the book comes in. After reading the book, I find myself stopping to think before I commit myself to a task – is this essential? The book describes the four E’s of essentialism: Essence, Explore, Eliminate and Execute. Find the essence of each idea, explore to differentiate the essential from trivial, eliminate the stuff of no consequence, and execute the things we really want to be doing. Essentialism is a practice that will not only help you through your college years, but it will continue to affect you at work.

My take away from this book is that you can’t be good at everything you do, but you can be an expert in areas that you’ve dedicated your time to the most (another good book to read is Outliers  by Malcom Gladwell). By being an essentialist, instead of being mediocre in 20 different areas, you can be an expert in the 3 to 5 areas that you decided to focus on. As a staff, I’ve learned that communication is the key to being an essentialist at work. Create good habits at work such as organizing your to-do-list, asking your seniors on the deadline for each task, prioritizing your work, and always asking yourself if taking on another task will affect the quality of the other tasks at hand.