So many of us try to do everything. When an opportunity presents itself, we take it. When someone asks us to do something, our first instinct is to say "yes".

Greg McKeown advises us against this. In his 2014 book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less", he tells us to think before saying "yes" or taking on more than we can handle. We can simplify our lives by focusing our energy only on those things that bring the most rewards. By eliminating non-essential things from our lives, we can focus more on what we value most.

McKeown provides some practical advice on how to become more focused. He tells us to block off time for ourselves; to take time to consider what in our life is most important and what we can eliminate; to take care of our bodies by getting sufficient sleep; to recognize when things are going poorly and know when to step away; to build buffer time into our schedules; and to learn how to politely decline requests.

Essentialism seems like common sense, but we are all guilty of overextending ourselves at least some of the time. McKeown's advice is sound. When I sold my house and moved to a small apartment in Chicago 8 years ago, I was able to rid myself of a lot of physical clutter. But I am still burdened with mental clutter. I am among those who are easily distracted and stretched too thin. Prioritizing my life would add value to it; especially if I could drop those things at the bottom.