6 Tips to Make Life Easier
—Book Review of "Effortless"

Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be. But with the right steps, we can learn to make life easier instead.


An Effortless Recommendation

I’m sitting in the recliner at home, scrolling through Twitter as the day winds down, somewhere between supper and bedtime.

I see a tweet from Daniel Pink. It shows his latest list of book recommendations. I always read his tweets, just like I always read his books and his emails.

I immediately read his list. These are books I’ll hunt down at my library and on NetGalley and add to my Evernote “To Read” folder.

Why? Because I trust Daniel Pink. He’s earned it through numerous positive connections between the books he recommends and the books I like.

Daniel Pink makes my life easier. He makes it effortless to know which new books to add to my to-read list.

Trying Too Hard?

Making life effortless is what Greg McKeown writes about in his newest release, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most. (McKeown is also the author of the best-selling book Essentialiam: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Read more about it here: You can’t do it all—choose less.)


In Effortless, McKeown focuses on making it easy to do what matters. He says we sometimes fail because we’re trying too hard. Instead, maybe we should “make the most essential activities the easiest ones.”

The book doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all answer, because what matters to you, to me, and to McKeown might be three different things. But the approach we use to arrive at that answer can be similar.

6 Tips to Make Life Easier

Here are 6 pieces of advice from McKeown to make life easier, among many in his book.

1. Make it a pair.

Reduce the lag time between the action and satisfaction by pairing an essential activity with a reward (such as, listening to a podcast only when you’re walking on the treadmill).

2. Create habit recipes.

“After [X] I will [Y].” For example, after I complain I will say something I am thankful for.

3. Create a “Done for the Day” list.

Only include on this list what constitutes meaningful and essential progress. Don’t make it a completion list, just a done-for-the day list.

4. Take the first obvious action.

Break projects down into their simplest parts. Too often we think of the first series of steps as the first step. Instead, find the true first step and start there.

5. Embrace the rubbish.

Don’t try to get everything exactly right the first time.

6. Grow a knowledge tree.

To repeat the residual results of knowledge, leverage what others know.

The Question to Ask

Tip #6 is what I do when I listen to Daniel Pink’s advice on what to read next. I leverage what he knows to effortlessly grow my own knowledge tree.

The book Effortless is full of more practical tips like these six. None are extreme or difficult, but are all designed to help us go the distance by choosing a lighter path.

McKeown ends the book with this takeaway:

“Life doesn’t have to be as hard and complicated as we make it. Ask yourself, “How am I making things harder than they need to be?” When you have your answer, you will know what to do next. It is as simple, it is as easy, as that.”

What are you making harder than it needs to be? Which of these 6 tips do you need the most? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Further Reading:

My thanks to NetGalley and Crown
Publishing for the review copy of this book

12 thoughts on “6 Tips to Make Life Easier
—Book Review of "Effortless"

  1. Donna

    Thank you, Lisa, I always enjoy your book reviews-I had to laugh though, because without even trying I do 5 of the 6 tips already-I’ll attribute that to overachiever syndrome…LOL. But I DO have days where I make things harder than they need to be-now if only I can get my husband to read this book, my life would be perfect…LOL

  2. Lois Flowers

    So I just went and put a hold on this book at the library, Lisa, and not ONLY because the cover reminds me (just a tiny bit) of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. 🙂 Seriously, I’m finding I don’t have the energy for really deep self-improvement books these days, but this one seems like it might have some quick info in it that I can actually implement right away. I guess we’ll see when it comes in!

  3. Laurie

    Thank you for making OUR lives easier with this good list. I am loving #5. It is what I always used to tell kids at school. Don’t expect perfection right away.

  4. Jean Wise

    I just looked and yes I have this book requested from our library. I did enjoy his first book so am looking forward to this one. The done for the day list intrigues me. I like to check things off but my list is often too endless. I look forward to reading this. Thanks for your always good suggestions!

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