TBU Ep 12 Essentialism 2 Application
[00:00:00] Rowena: Hi, you are listening to Two Booked Up a podcast about business and personal development books and the conversations they ignite. I'm Rowena Mabbott.
[00:00:15] Shelley: And I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith. Today on Two Booked Up, we're continuing the discussion of Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
[00:00:26] Shelley: In today's episode, we're exploring how the approach of essentialism and the very practical elements shared throughout the book can support us in our lives with our families and in our businesses. So, as we shared in our last episode, the idea behind essentialism is to eliminate all the non-essentials in our life in order to focus on what really matters.
So we're going to be answering three questions today. And as we do so, we'd encourage you to think about what your answers to these questions would be. So the questions are: Question One. In what ways did you already consider yourself an Essentialist before you read the book? Then question two is how have you become more of an essentialist after reading the book?
And then question three. Is in which areas do you feel you still have some work to do in order to become this true Essentialist? So we're going to kick things off. Rowena. I'd love to know from you. In what ways did you already consider yourself an Essentialist before you read this book? And as you were reading it, you were like, yeah, that's how I am. This resonates, this feels right. This feels like the way I'm living my life.
[00:01:47] Rowena: Ah, thanks Shelley. And you are right. I kind of did, but I maybe didn't think of it along with that particular word. Essentialist wasn't a word that I would've ascribed to myself, but once I read through the book, there were a lot of principles, which Greg, goes on to explain that actually, I could see I was already living, so the first one I think was the trade-off.
He talks about this in the first part of the book, and for me, the career break that I took was to look after my boys and focus on being a mom. Definitely had a huge amount of trade off, connected with it. So when my boys were babies, I decided to take a career break and focus on raising them. So this decision was completely aligned with my values around love and my value of family.
But the trade off elements really needed quite careful consideration because it had very real costs, including no income for a period. And of course, putting the breaks on my career progression as I stepped out of the workforce in order to be there full time, caring for my kids.
So that was definitely a trade off element.
[00:02:51] Shelley: Yes. And I think that trade off is so important in essentialism of going like, well, which problem do you want to have? I can imagine you would've thought about, childcare and the alternatives for, you know, if you had to stay in your career, there would've been a trade off. You would've had a different problem as he talks about.
Um, whereas you chose the problem, the problems that came with, uh, taking the career break.
[00:03:15] Rowena: Yeah. And then you're right. And it wasn't because I, I did try. To be fair, I actually did try returning to work after my first born. But the trade off in that instance was that he was getting very sick. So he was in childcare for a couple of days a week, and I would go into the office, but he would get incredibly sick.
And so the trade off discussion came to a head quite quickly because my husband and I sat down and said, Well, hang on a minute. We didn't have kids in order to spend most of our time dealing with him being so unwell and us then getting sick as well. And so after a period of time we decided, look, this trade off was too, too steep.
The trade off for me to further my career and continue in my career wasn't worth the trade off of having our child at that stage, our single child being absolutely sick of the dog every single week. And I wasn't even able to turn up to work anyway cuz I was off caring for him. So that that kind of brought that trade off discussion to a head.
But it was something I do wanna emphasize that yes, it's part of Essentialism, but all trade offs. Some are bigger than others, but they always require a little bit of thought and some due considerations around what elements, what things are you more comfortable to have? Which problems as you mentioned, which problem are you comfortable to wear versus those that are just too uncomfortable. And I think comfort there is a pretty key word because that aligns with our own personal values and interests.
[00:04:37] Shelley: Yes. and what I also get from that, is the seasonality of it for that season, you needed to take that career break. You've now since picked up and you've actually revolutionized your career and, and now have your own business and a completely different, new kind of way of, contributing to the world.
And, I think it's, it's that seasonal approach. And that to me is also something that you have always been very good at before we even read essentialism is living according to your season and designing your life according to your season. Cuz I know in the book, Greg McKeown puts it in chapter one. That the way of the essentialist means living by design and not by defaults.
and I know this is something that's, that's very much a part of your core values and how you've lived your life and run your business up to now.
[00:05:28] Rowena: Absolutely. And I'm so glad you shared that quote. Cause it's one of my favorites from the book. When I read it, I was like, Oh, it's like he's talking to me. I felt very seen in that particular quote, but you're absolutely right. Living with, like, living by design and with intention. Is core to the way I run my business and live my life.
But it did take, probably the loss of my second child to really kind of drive home that point around saying life's too short and I don't want to be having other people make my decisions for me. I want to choose how I spend my time and how I work in my own business. And it took a little time post that, um, but it was really when I retrained as a coach, as I've shared about in our previous episodes that kind of brought everything into alignment.
But living by design and being intentional about what you choose to do means that we have more control, but also that we are very strategic about what we say yes to and quite thoughtful about what we say no to. So I guess that's kind of the essence of what the Essentialist book talks about as well, which is why, probably why as I shared in the last episode, I really love this book.
So Shelley, we've just talked a bit about, how I already considered myself an essentialist before I read the book. What about you? Can you share with our listeners how did you already consider yourself an essentialist before you read the book?
[00:06:51] Shelley: Yeah. So I think when I read this book, I was a little bit intimidated cuz I, I was like, oh, he's gonna make me give up everything. He's gonna make me just do one thing. And I don't wanna just do one thing. As I shared in the last episode as well, I'm a very multi passionate person. I like doing a lot of things.
And I think I looked at the cover of the book and I saw, you know, there's the kind. Big tangle of a circle. It's just a mess. It's a scribble. And then it's going from that kind of mess to this more coherent circle, there's lots of things drawn over it but it's a little bit more coherent.
I like it because you're going from this mess to something a little bit more coherent, but it's not this perfect circle.
And so while there was some things that I was like, oh, I'm so not an essentialist, I realized that I also have always lived my life by design and embracing this choice of going, I have a choice, in everything in my life. And that really was a value that I had lived with before reading the book. And then with homeschooling now I, you know, I read the book some time ago and then we did homeschooling. So, you know, maybe, maybe the book did influence us in our decision to homeschool, but that homeschooling decision was one of those trade off kind of decisions of going all in, and making the trade off in terms of time, you know, a lot of people ask me, how do you do it?
How do you, you know, you need to spend all this time teaching your children and homeschooling your children. Um, but I had to look at the trade off in terms of the time that I would have to spend, like maybe doing some remedial work with, my kids, like actually doing homework after they'd been at school.
So it was like looking at things like that. And also for me, just sort of the control and what I could give my child, I was in a position to give my child that kind of one-on-one attention that he needed, rather than, delegate that to a school. And so I was like, you know what, let's just go for it.
Because I actually looked at a smaller school when we were deciding to homeschool. And I thought, no, this is actually not what I want. It was actually really good to go. Just look at different schools to see if a different schooling system could work for us. And that's when I realized no I'm going all in on bringing them home and me taking on this responsibility, which is a big one.
But I think. Yeah. I think, parents who have kids at school also have so many trade offs in terms of their time and the time that they have to give to school and extracurricular activities and, and other things there's different, different trade offs. So I think for me, that was an example of like where I went, you know what we're going all in.
We're going essentialist on this and we're homeschooling.
But now we've, we've read the book. Okay. And, the book has changed the way we run our businesses and run our families and, just be human beings really. So Rowena how have you become more of an essentialist after reading the book?
[00:09:55] Rowena: Ah, well, that's a great question, Shelly. And I will just, before I answer that, I'm just. Listening to you talking about homeschooling. I just wanna draw our listener's attention to something. Is that if you go back to episode, the first episodes in this season about the four tendencies, you'll hear some really classic phrases that Shelley has just used there.
That show that she is a rebel. And interestingly that her husband is a questioner and the questioning aspect of exploring all your options, where Shelly just shared that she went and checked out some other schools. That's actually part of being an essentialist as well. So essentialist always go and explore all their options and they keep their mind open.
To determine what is the most important thing to do and what is the best decision? Because that, as Shelley said, going all in is not something you just decide on a whim as an essentialist. Essentialists, do the research. They make sure their I's are dotted and their T's are crossed. So I just thought there's a really nice relationship there between our first book of this season as well.
But now I'm gonna answer your question, which is how did I become more of an essentialist after reading the book? So the biggest one, I think, is for me around my social media strategy and my content marketing strategy in my business.
So in essence, I've reduced the amount of content I put out. I have generally hopefully made it of better quality. So some time ago. I used to write, a weekly blog post and then I moved to fortnightly and then I think probably I had switched to this just prior to reading essentialism, but I'd moved to once a month, just a one blog post a month.
But since reading essentialism, I've actually enhanced those posts and made them a lot more in depth, with hopefully better quality content, substantially longer. Um, and I'm really trying to capture the essence of what my clients would be interested in reading and learning about.
The other thing I've done is newsletters for my subscribers. Similarly, I've decided that if I'm going to do it, I'm gonna do it properly. And so therefore it's more in depth. And again, with more valuable content tailored specifically for the audience of the people who've subscribed. And then finally the social media content I have gradually moved from when I first was on social media from posting nearly every day, then I moved to four times a week around the time I was reading essentialism. And then after reading essentialism and letting the ideas percolate and having a little toy with an experiment about working out what would work for me, I then have reduced it down to twice a week. That's my ideal. Sometimes for example, when we are promoting podcasts, it does go up a little bit, but otherwise twice a week to three times a week feels like a really good balance for me in terms of the essential elements of what I need to do to market my business.
[00:12:42] Shelley: I really like that example, because you've, come to that, idea through that exploration that you were mentioning earlier. I think that was quite a big thing for me to discover that essentialist actually take the time to explore and I think.
You have done that you've, you've experimented, you've explored. And then you've used that information to, to decide on, on one path that you kind of do as you are essential, your basic, your bare bones, kind of like, this is like the minimal that I'll do. And, and then as you say, when you have a launch or something like that, you'll build on top of that, but the essentials are covered and then it feels calm. It feels like everything's in the flow and, but it's, it all came from a bit of exploration and a bit of experimentation. So I think that's really great.
And yeah, in terms of me becoming more of an essentialist after reading the book, I think. For me on the business side of things is, in my business, I used to do quite a number of things.
I focused in, on helping people with their launches. And so that's led me into, um, doing like website design, but then it, it's never just a website because then you've got email marketing software, you've got social media software, and there's a lot of tech and I love the tech side of things, but where really my zone of genius, I believe lies is in writing stories in, copywriting. And so it's actually been fairly recently. And as I've reread this book that I've been inspired to take the, for profit side of my business and only do copywriting. So really bring it down to a clear and essential offer, of just doing copywriting.
And I mean, I'll, you know, whisper in the ear of the podcast listeners that I will kind of help my clients with some of the tech sides of things, but my big offer is copywriting. I don't sort of advertise now the tech and website design side of things. And if it's a big website, I will 100% go and refer it to another website designer who's a specialist in that side of, business. So, I'll hand off the work. And then that website designer gets a great bunch of copywriting and the client can get a professional and specialized service. And this has been hard for me because it's like, it does feel like sometimes you're turning down money if, somebody wants me to design a whole website or, they want, me to help with, the tech side of things, but it's not, it's so much more coherent and it works so much better with my life as a mother and a homeschooling mother, if I can focus in on just copyrighting.
And so that's something I credit essentialism with inspiring me to do of streamlining and simplifying and focusing just on my zone of genius, which is copywriting.
[00:15:35] Rowena: I wanna add as well, that Shelley's zone of genius is definitely copywriting. The few times that I've had Shelley work with my content and do the copywriting, it is so much better than if I've done it on own. So just a quick shout out that copywriting is for sure Shelley' zone of genius!
But what about where things are a bit tricky? I'm sure there are some elements of essentialism as you shared, because your curiosity is one of your core strengths where have you maybe found some of the essentialism aspects a little bit hard?
[00:16:08] Shelley: Yes, I find it really hard to just focus in on one thing. I love me some shiny object syndrome. I I'm very, uh, prone to that. And I think as I shared in the beginning, I'm very multi passionate and I want to do hashtag all the things, but after reading essentialism, I think I've just downscaled that from all the things to lot of the things.
And I think where you've helped me here, Ro is to just bring some cohesion to all of the multi passions that I have. And so when we do our planning for the year, I choose a word for the year and, this year's word has been "compose". And to me that has kind of just rounded out all of these passions that I've got in my business, in my personal life, in my hobbies with my kids, with my homeschooling in my family life, beyond the kids, it's, it's kind of helped to bring a bit of cohesion to the whole thing, rather than putting energy in so many different directions and instead going well, how does this help me to compose?
How does this help me the double meaning to feel composed and calm, and all these different aspects of my life, I found using that word as a guide helps me to just bring that focus and that essentialism into life.
And the other part where I'm working at it. And again, where you're helping me, Rowena, is, that Ro, and I have, uh, accountability arrangements. And so every month we get together and we sort of plan out the month and plan actions for that month and have one area of focus. And that's been like mind blown for me because like you've encouraged me to go, well, is your focus gonna be business this month?
And you give me nice broad focuses. It's like business homeschooling or like, family life. And. Say, you know, we're going on a holiday that month. Um, and then like you've encouraged me, well, like make it a family focused month and there's been a bit of resistance thinking,
" What about my business?" if I actually go, you know what, number one top priority as Greg McKeown points out, the Greek word for priority, doesn't have a plural. So you only have one priority, really. So if I focus for example, on my family for a month, my business won't completely flounder because I also will have set up supports and it's not like I just stopped my business completely.
When it kind of comes down and if there's a call to make in that month, like it's gonna be family first. And in other months, like when we've launched this podcast, like right now, my husband is running homeschooling with my boys because I'm recording this podcast with you. So the focus has been , on the podcast this month and that's been really helpful for me because then.
It just, it validates me, I think. And it, and it gives me calm knowing that everything is covered if I can have this focus and when you have that directed energy, I think everything else does come in line with that. There's like an energetic buildup. If you can have this focus of energy. So that's certainly something that I'm working on, and that I've put supports in place, like, with our accountability arrangement.
So yeah. Ro, how about you? I don't feel like you've got too many areas to work on becoming an essentialist, but I think there are still a few, even for you Rowena, where there some areas that you still need to work on to become a true essentialist?
[00:19:42] Rowena: Oh, there are still so many but I, I appreciate your vote of confidence, but I think probably the biggest one right now, or at least for this, the back end of this year. So when this episode goes. Live the back end of this 20, 22 year has been reassessing my volunteer commitments. So I have previously been heavily involved in many, many different volunteer efforts, um, a lot to do with my kids through the schools.
So through the primary school, with the high school and with their sporting commitments. So I've done many different roles within many different organizations, all on a voluntary basis, which is fantastic. And I, it's a core value of mine to give back and to be generous, but there have been a time when it's been quite challenging. Either because I end up doing far more than I wanted to do or that it ends up clashing with too many other things that I really are my essentials, so running my business or being present for my family. So where I think I still have some work to do is the book has been excellent in reminding me to be very intentional about.
[00:20:49] Rowena: Where I give my time. So whilst I love to live my life by design and intention, it had kind of slipped into a bit more of a habit around how much time I gave to volunteer efforts. And so there's a particular question in essentialism that really was a bit of an eye opener for me.
And that's the question. If I wasn't involved in this activity, would I make an effort to get involved in it now? It was such a powerful question for really evaluating. Well, not just the activities, but the tasks and the various commitments in my diary as well. And so that's really, probably one of the areas that is still ongoing.
And it does also link with the other area that I'm still working on, which is subtract, which is where we remove tasks and objects and commitments, we make a more spacious life, which then provides greater opportunities for exploring the things that light us up. So for me, by removing some of my volunteer commitments, I've been able to carve out space for family. So extra time with my kids whilst they're still happy to hang out with me. And also to engage with volunteer work that is actually more aligned with my values and my interests. So by being quite intentional or strategic about which things I actually really want to do rather than doing things, because I felt I should do them.
So again, that's kind of, kind of tying back into that idea of, I choose to do this, but actually making it a choice because I know early in the book, Greg also talks about if we don't choose, then someone else will choose for us. And I think my volunteer work had very much got to a point where someone else was choosing for me about how I was gonna use my time.
And I felt it was quite powerful to be able to take back. It's back back to being my choice now, to be fair. It is an area that's a work in progress. There's still a lot of room for improvement.
But on that subtracted idea, it is something that I like to work with clients on as well. And it's something that I've been working on myself for a number of years now about really streamlining down, simplifying, focusing, and getting clarity around.
What are the things that give us energy and do more of those and then use our time and energy for the things that make us feel great. And sometimes that can be pursuing a professional qualification that otherwise we might not have thought we had the time or energy to do, or taking up a personal pursuit, or even as I've just shared spending time with my kids whilst they're still happy to hang out with me because they really would prefer to hang out with their friends. And I think I've only got a, a short while, more where they'll actually be happy to hang out with their mom. So I think that's where the really great questions that are posed within the essentialism book are very valuable for us in our businesses, in our lives and our families to consider and actually use those questions at a real practical level and say, how do, can I apply this in my life? And what would be my answer?
And that can then be enough of a kind of kick in the proverbial to make us realize, oh, perhaps we should do something differently.
[00:23:46] Shelley: Yeah. And, and I, I like what you're saying also about that this is a work in progress like your volunteer commitments, it was a seasonal thing at one point, it, it did work for you. It did align with your values, but then that season changed, but then the commitments didn't change. And so it's actually being intentional and going, I'm in a new season now.
And also, if you look at like the seasons of life, with your boys, as you're saying, looking at it through a seasonal lens and reevaluating constantly, I don't think, well, I definitely think that, Essentialism is not a one and done thing.
It's a mindset and it constantly takes work in progress. So that's why we've sort of ended with this question of like, where are you still working on this? And just to encourage listeners that this is a lifelong pursuit and it's takes constant check in. So like Rowena and I love designing according to seasons, and actually looking at the natural seasons and Rowena's got a lovely Design Your Season Workbook, if you're interested in like a framework to plan out and design your season. Um, but it could be a monthly check-in, a yearly check-in. Just going are, are these commitments, is this way I'm living my life in alignment with the design.
Is this in alignment with what I want now in, in this season.
[00:25:04] Rowena: Shelly, that's a that's exactly right. And I think one of the benefits of us taking a work in progress approach to our embracing of essentialism is that we are taking it step by step. So similar to what we've shared in previous books, we are taking starting small.
We are doing small wins. We celebrate those small wins. And then as we move through things, we actually notice the bigger impact in our business and our lives, which then helps build flow and momentum, which is terrific for us. And we encourage listeners to try it out as well. From that perspective.
[00:25:36] Shelley: Yeah, absolutely. This has been such a good book. I highly recommend it and I've really enjoyed chatting with you a bit more about this book. Rowena,
[00:25:45] Rowena: absolutely Shelley, it has been so fun to revisit this book and I have loved chatting with you too. So Shelley, now the very important question after all we've shared today, it is natural. That my next question to you is what are you reading right now?
[00:26:00] Shelley: So I am reading Enola Holmes. I've actually just jumped into the series at book six. So Enola Holmes is Sherlock Holmes's younger sister. Uh, there was a TV series on about
[00:26:11] Rowena: Yeah, I think it was a movie on Netflix.
[00:26:14] Shelley: that's right. It was a movie that's right. A really great one with this, female, lead and she's actually taking on Sherlock Holmes and trying to escape from him in many instances, but she's also solving mysteries. So I've started reading that one. I actually picked it up for my boys, but it's maybe a little too advanced for them right now. The language is a little bit posh English.
But I am thoroughly enjoying it and I love the kind of female lead take on a Sherlock Holmes kind of trope . And so Ro, what are you reading at the moment?
[00:26:45] Rowena: Well, I'm just about to finish reading the book called This is not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch by an Australian author named Tabitha Carvan. And it is a fascinating book. And to be fair. It is a little bit about Benedict Cumberbatch, but it also explores a lot of other ideas, particularly relevant to some of our upcoming topics around playfulness around women and what's okay for women, as well as our need for things that bring us joy. So it's, it's a really interesting book and it has sparked a lot of ideas for me. It's really about finding your thing and loving it like your life depends upon it. Fantastic book.
[00:27:26] Shelley: Super. Cool. Sounds. Sounds amazing. I'm just gonna check that one out. A nice little link cuz Benedict Cumberbatch played Sherlock Holmes. So
[00:27:35] Rowena: Very nice. It's all connected.
[00:27:40] Rowena: In our next episode, Shelley will be taking a deep dive into Essentialism key principle two and specifically chapter seven and sharing with us excellent ideas and tips for how we can connect with our inner child and embrace a more Playful mindset.
[00:27:55] Shelley: Oh, yes, I am very excited about our next episode. This idea of play is something that I'm deeply passionate about. The idea of playfulness is something that I started researching when I started homeschooling nearly three years ago. And the more I learned about the benefits of play, the more I started realizing.
Well, Hey there, this isn't just something for the kids. This is something for us as adults to embrace too. And I found that as a mompreneur, this idea of a Playful attitude or a Playful mindset was, was very helpful. As I talked about these overarching principles and these keywords, it was really helpful for me to bring all these areas of my life.
So like parenting or homeschooling and then running my business under this umbrella of playfulness. So thank you, Greg McKeown, you have certainly ignited a conversation on a topic that I could talk about for hours. So I'm really looking forward to talking more about play and how it can, and indeed must fit into our adult life.
So join us next week for that.
[00:28:59] Rowena: And I am so excited for Shelly's deep dive into play next week, because listeners, you may or may not know that Shelley is in fact the Playful Mompreneur. She has another podcast by that name. So you can be assured of getting great insights by someone who lives and breathes play.
But for now we hope by sharing our stories of essentialism and what that can look like in our lives, families and businesses. You can also see opportunities to focus on what's essential in your life. And do let us know if you try it out or if you would like some support as you do so.
You can learn more about the support and services we each offer on our websites. I can be found online at rowenamabbott and Shelley, where can listeners find your online home?
[00:29:43] Shelley: So my copywriting business, you can find at ShelleySmithCreative.com and then all my writing about business, homeschooling, and other musings, I have made a new home for them at ShelleyTonkinSmith.Com. And then on Instagram, I'm Shelley Smith Creative. So send us a DM or a comment on our podcast posts.
We'd love to hear what you thought about this episode.
[00:30:07] Shelley: And Ro. Where can our listeners find you on the Gram?
[00:30:10] Rowena: And I'm rowenamabbott on Instagram. As Shelley said, we put up posts every time we post. So you can leave a comment for either of us.
[00:30:18] Shelley: Wonderful. And just speaking of commenting and conversation, we'd love it. If you tell your friends about Two Booked Up, you can find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. And then please subscribe to the podcast or click follow on your podcast player.
That's the best way to get all our future episodes. And we will see you in the next episode.
[00:30:41] Rowena: Thanks so much for joining us on Two Booked Up today.