I picked up The Power of Less by Leo Babauta at the library a few weeks ago and I think I read it faster than any book I’ve read in recent memory. I completely devoured everything that Leo (author of one of my favorite blogs, ZenHabits) had to share.
The book focuses on simplifying your life, both through cutting out the unnecessary things and focusing on tasks related to your goals. Here are a few of the highlights.
Babauta explains that we often try to do a major overhaul of our habits in bulk. Instead, he says that you should focus on creating new habits, one at a time. Don’t try to improve everything at once. Focus on one habit that you want to create and stay focused on it until it is, in fact, a habit. Then, move on to the next one.
Some of the habits he suggests working on include creating a daily routine, exercise 5-10 minutes daily, keeping your desk de-cluttered, eating more fruits and vegetables, etc.
Getting Things Done
I’ve tried the actual GTD system in the past and I failed miserably as it fell into the realm of a major overhaul. I remember wondering when I was ever going to have time to devote an entire day to starting it and organizing my life. Babauta’s approach (“Zen to Done“) goes right along with creating habits: focus on one task at a time.
He suggests setting your three most important tasks that you want to accomplish each day and only work on one task at a time until completed. I’ve been doing this and it’s been a great system. At the end of the day, as long as those three tasks are complete, you feel like you’ve accomplished what needed to be done.
Cutting Out The Noise
We live busy, fast, noisy lives. I’ve talked in the past about some of the distractions of technology and other factors. Leo gives some great tips for lessening the interruptions due to things like the internet, email, commitments, etc. For example, he says it’s a good practice to check email only twice a day. In general, a person should be setting limits.
I’ve been trying to get into this habit a bit more, but at his suggestion, this month I’ve been working on my “One Goal,” which as I mentioned is setting the three most important tasks each morning until that’s a habit.
Slow Down and Focus On The Present
This is a big one for me. I spend too much time thinking about what needs to be done. Babauta explains that if we put into practice his other suggestions for simplifying, we’ll be able to live at a slower pace, get more done, and focus on the present, thus giving us more satisfaction in what we are actually doing.
While I thoroughly enjoyed The Power of Less and will easily give it five out of five stars on Goodreads, the one topic I wish Babauta would have covered in-depth is the idea of simplifying your stuff. We as consumers are simply way too “stuff”-driven, myself included. I’ve really been realizing how much consumerism contributes to stress, lack of balance, and lack of perspective on what matters in life. Again, I’m as guilty as anyone on this one and I would have loved some tips from Leo on this topic.
This book has given me a great roadmap for simplifying both my life and career, and I highly recommend reading it. I may even try to get Leo for an AnywhereMan interview at some point since he officially lives the Anywhere Lifestyle, so if anybody knows him personally, drop me an email.