Words By Tara Wagner

Who Should Read Effortless, by Greg McKeown? (Book Review)

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Who should read Effortless, the new book by Greg McKeown? Uh…I have some thoughts on that. (This is my not-so Effortless book review.)

Watch here or read on below.

Who Should Read Effortless, by Greg McKeown? (Book Review) Share on X

I’ve been a die-hard for Essentialism since I read it years ago. It was literally a game-changer for me. Effortless? Not so much.

When I first read Essentialism, it literally changed my life. So when I heard Effortless was coming out, I immediately pre-ordered. I wasn’t quite sure at the time whether it was a book about productivity or habits or something else, but now after reading I can most definitely say…I’m still not sure.

Essentialism was a book about eliminating – systematically learning how to do away with what didn’t truly, deeply matter.

It literally was a game-changer for me. It was just the right message, taught in just the right way, and reaching me at just the right time, but over the years since reading it, I’ve learned that living it is anything but effortless. Which is why I was so excited when Effortless came along, thinking that Greg McKeown must have figured out what I haven’t and finally unlocked the way to make the essential easy.

Because where Essentialism is a book about how to do away with what doesn’t matter, Effortless was meant to be a book about how to make what’s left easier to do.

Except it leaves you feeling like that’s anything but Effortless. 

The book breaks down into 3 parts: Effortless State, Effortless Action, Effortless Results. 

Effortless State

Effortless State asks the question: “how can we make it easier to focus?”

However, it doesn’t clearly answer that question. It tries to teach you how to live a state of being that’s effortless, but it was really less about things being effortless and more about just not making them harder than they already are. 

The 5 chapters, Invert, Enjoy, Release, Rest, and Notice are mostly about a mindset or approach to things.

Each chapter reads like a collection of essays on good ideas that got ended too abruptly before the action steps or takeaways were really brought home. It was almost like just as I was starting to see the importance of each section of each chapter, it would end, jump to the next idea, and leave me a little lost – completely unclear on how to apply what I was reading. 

That was fine though. I thought maybe I just don’t need this section, so it’s not resonating as deeply. I do however NEED more effortless action and effortless results in my life as I juggle a growing business, lots of health needs, and a deep desire to still prioritize the most important people in my life.

So I was super excited to move into Part 2, Effortless Action.

Effortless Action

Effortless Action attempts to answer the question, how can we make essential work easier, and this part was loads better than the first.

You could say it’s more about how to approach your priorities or goals in a way that allows you to make better progress with less friction. 

The chapters Define, Start, Simplify, Progress, and Pace still offer a lot of mindset, which is a good thing, and there’s more practical guidance. 

However, for me personally, someone who practices and teaches similar things to entrepreneurs, I was hoping for more.

When I read a book that isn’t teaching me something new, I still look to see if it’s teaching it well – would this be a book I’d want all my clients to read. And while he touches on really important topics that I’d want my clients to know, and would love to have them pick up in one place, he doesn’t teach them very well. 

For instance, the examples he uses…it’s awesome to read about how the first South Pole expedition succeeded because they paced themselves. But how is that applicable to small business owners or professionals juggling very essential deadlines at work with clients or customers relying on them with the very real needs within their family and very crucial needs when it comes to their own well-being?

There were very few relatable stories and even less guidance on how to actually make this effortless.

Effortless Results

Then Effortless Results, which tries to answer the question, how can we get the highest return on the least effort. A great question, but a pretty choppy section lacking in much practical application. 

The chapters, Learn, Lift, Automate, Trust, and Prevent are all good topics, essentially trying to convey the importance of knowing how to learn efficiently, how to leverage others, how to use automation to free up brain power, and how to be proactive. But each chapter barely scratched the surface of its topic and some just didn’t make it clear how it even belonged.

And once again, I was just like…okay, how do I apply this?

Overall the whole book reads a little choppy, like the least amount of effort was put into pulling it together. That doesn’t mean it was a completely worthless read. There were some things that were genuinely useful for me. 


  • The sentence “do not do more today than you can recover from by tomorrow” – I needed that. 
  • Or the concept of using a “done for the day” list…
  • Or pacing yourself with a daily “range” of work: “I will never do less than X, never more than Y.”

But I was genuinely expecting more than 3 nuggets from this entire book.

So who do I think SHOULD read Effortless…

If you’re about to read Essentialism, following that immediately with Effortless wouldn’t be a terrible idea. 

Also if you’re in a place where you’re just looking to keep yourself on track by immersing yourself in regular reminders of concepts, but you don’t need more to implement, Effortless would be ok for that. 

But if you’re truly struggling to juggle genuinely important things in your life and feeling the strain of that effort, Effortless isn’t likely to be a game-changer for you. And I’m genuinely not sure which book would be. 

If you have a great recommendation for a book like that, be sure to comment with the title below.


No matter what stage of goal setting you’re in, or what method you plan on using I encourage you to join our 5 Day “Get Out Of Your Own Way” Challenge.

You’ll join hundreds of women LIVE to learn how to overcome overwhelm, eliminate procrastination, get unstuck and out of your own way, so you can take powerful action in your business and finally crush your goals (not your soul). 

Learn more here or join the waitlist by clicking the button below.

What about you, boss lady?

I want to hear from you. If you’ve read Essentialism or Effortless, let me know your takeaways and who you think the book is best for. Also, let me know if you’re in this same boat – juggling truly essential things but finding it anything but effortless.


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Tara Wagner

I’m Tara Wagner, creator of the Breakthrough Boss®. I help small biz owners overcome burnout and create part-time schedules with full-time profits. Not with some new marketing strategy, but with a holistic approach to how you operate. Click here to learn more.
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