book covers effortless

A 5 Minute Overview Of


Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most

About the Author

Greg Mckeown is an accomplished public speaker and author. He has spoken at Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Pixar,, as well as at Stanford University and the World Economic Forum. His first book, Essentialism, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Greg McKeown is also the coauthor of Multipliers. His blog for the Harvard Business Review is consistently ranked highly, as is his podcast What's Essential. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and Harvard University.

The Main Idea

Lots of people feel burned out at work today — they have too much to do. If that's you, consider for a moment that the solution probably isn't to work harder. A better approach might be to make your most essential things easier, and your distractions harder to do. That's the essence of "effortless".

Specifically, to achieve more, and to stack the deck in your favor, take the three effortless steps:

Discovering the effortless way of living is like using special polarized sunglasses while fly-fishing. Without them, the glare on the water makes it difficult to see anything swimming below the surface. But as soon as you put them on, their angled surface filters out the horizontal light waves coming off the water, blocking the glare. Suddenly, you can see all the fish underneath. When we're accustomed to doing things the hard way, it's like being blinded by the glare coming off the water. But once you start putting these ideas into practice you will start to see that the easier way was there all along, just hidden from your view. Of course, you can't make everything in your life effortless. But you can make more of the right things less impossible — then easier, then easy, and ultimately effortless.
Greg McKeown


Step #1 — Get into the EFFORTLESS state. The first step towards making the right things effortless is to clear the clutter in your head and heart. Simplify your processes to make your work easier to do. To feel more fully present in each moment:

Step #2 — Take EFFORTLESS action. Once you're in the effortless state, you then simplify processes to make the work easier to do consistently. Do that by:

Step #3 — Achieve EFFORTLESS results. Most effortless actions will generate linear results, but if you're smart, you'll work towards generating residual or maybe even exponential results. To produce great results again and again:

Key Takeaways

  1. Don't try and work harder all the time. Always look for smarter ways to work. One great approach is to make your essential tasks easier to do, and your distractions harder to do.
  2. Always look for ways to simplify your processes, so you make the right things easier to do consistently well.
Getting to the next level doesn’t have to mean chronic exhaustion. Making a contribution doesn’t have to come at the expense of your mental and physical health. Essentialism was about doing the right things; Effortless is about doing them in the right way.
Greg McKeown

Summaries.Com Editor's Comments

Greg McKeown is a well-known author. His first book, Essentialism, became a NY Times bestseller, and this book is heading down the same path. The basic premise of Effortless is if you're feeling burned out, like you have too much to do, welcome to the crowd. The solution isn't to work harder. A better approach is to make your essential tasks easier to do, and your distractions harder to do. Simplify your processes, drop what doesn't add value, and get into a state where you can do the right things effortlessly.

What I did like about this book is it's very hands-on and practical. The author doesn't just make suggestions, he gets into the details about how to make the right things easier to do. I like that. When you're a fan of self-education, you don't just need formulas, you need context so you can adapt and make it happen in your life and in your career circumstances. As Greg McKeown says, "When you simply can't try any harder, it's time to find a different path".

Do the right things, by all means, but also do them the right way. I like that philosophy. Great book.

Want in-depth 30-minute summaries?

In addition to this 5-minute overview, Summaries.Com has a premium 30-minute summary of this book and 1,000+ more, to help you advance your career and business.

Check Out Premium Plans Today!

Want more 5-minute Snapshots?

To get a new 5-minute business book snapshot each week, sign up for the free plan.

Sign Up for the Free Plan

Business Smarts 101 Collection

If you enjoyed this summary, here is a collection of related business book summaries, to help you get ideas and strategies that will give you an edge over your competition.

This mini-course will help you figure out smarter, better ways to get things done.

Buy Business Smarts 101 Collection (5 x 30-Min Summaries)
book covers effortless
Summary published 6/2021

Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most

by Greg Mckeown

book covers multipliers
Summary published 9/2010

How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown

book covers smartcuts
Summary published 9/2014

How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

by Shane Snow

book covers smarter faster better
Summary published 4/2016
Smarter Faster Better

The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg

book covers the knowing doing gap
Summary published in 2000
The Knowing-Doing Gap

How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action

by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton

Buy Business Smarts 101 Collection (5 x 30-Min Summaries)