Book: The Power of Less

Sunday morning I read The Power of Less by Leo Babauta.  I’m a big fan of Leo’s Zen Habits blog (I was turned onto it a few months ago by Amy) and I had high hopes for the book.  It delivered.

Several times a week I hear from a friend or colleague that he or she is overwhelmed with the amount of stuff going on in their world.  Occasionally someone ends up in my office in tears as they struggle to make sense of the madness that has become their life.  I continuously gets email responders from people I email that say some variant of “I’m way behind on email – be patient” which is often foreshadowing for their subsequent blog post or tweet that says “I’ve declared email bankruptcy – starting over.”

A decade ago I figured out a rhythm that works for me.  I’ve always managed to get through an enormous amount of stuff, but I would periodically go off a cliff and just completely melt down from complete exhaustion.  I’d either end up asleep for a week or in bed with a nasty cold (trying to sleep, but mostly just feeling shitty) until my body (and brain) recovered.  My ultimately solution was a combination of some of the things I’ve talked about in my Work-Life Balance posts (and that I’m writing about now in my Work-Life Balance email newsletter).

Some of my tactics show up in Leo’s book.  As I read through it, I thought to myself that “everyone I know that struggles with being overwhelmed” should read this book.  As fits the title, it’s not a long book, but it’s well organized, has a clear philosophy throughout, and is easy to relate to and understand.

I was already a fan of Leo’s, but now I’m even a bigger one.

  • I admire how you're able to manage so much in your life – definitely something to look up to.

    Way to take a shot at Fred early in the week!

    • Fred's been doing much better with email now that he's on Gmail!

  • Leo is brilliant and your post reminded me it's probably time to review his book for a quarterly refresher!

    Also, thanks for sharing your solutions and the actions that you've found valuable.

    Running at it 110% 24/7 only works for so long…

  • afranklin

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    Another good book on personal productivity is The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play. It goes over how workaholics and procrastinators have many of the same problems, and how important it is to schedule personal time.

  • Mike Greczyn

    Wen I go off the cliff I sort of disengage and for a couple of days I will be horribly unproductive. I try to preempt the meltdown with regular exercise, and a really intense bikeride can usually fix things. Some quality fiction does it for me as well, either books or movies. After 2 years of business school it took all of the Gunslinger series and then some to put me anywhere near right.

  • I've been reading Leo's "Zen Habits" blog since early 2008… he is a very talented and inspired writer. In particular, his ability to reduce his possessions to "less than 100 items" was very impressive and instructive for me (try THAT…). Leo is the king of minimalism, and writes engagingly with clear, succinct ideas about things that matter.

    I used to participate in Leo's "30 day challenge", held on his website every calendar month… a great forum for locking in new habits, and behavior changes. e.g. to eat Vegetarian; run every day; spend more quality time with your kids, etc. Good things.

    Leo moved not too many months ago, from living on the island of Guam – to downtown San Francisco, CA – bringing his family and kids (8?) in tow. I haven't checked in recently to see how THAT's working:) I did see a post where he has climbed Mount Shasta and was inspired to the max — so he must be doing OK with it :))

    I just purchased "The Power of Less" at the Kindle store, and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks, Amy.

  • Totally agree with your review. And I like your space here a lot. Will be back for more 🙂

  • hey Brad

    have not read the book yet,
    yes, as yourself, I have also developed my own way of refreshing my mind and body. the way is so simple- do something that is clearly real, that involves nature, your passion, emotions.

    time to read Leo's blog?
    take care:)