Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Sun Care Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis Segway miniPro

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on January 4, 2009
My copy of Leo Babauta's new book, Power of Less, The: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Business and in Life, arrived Friday evening, and by late Friday I'd read it cover to cover. Now, on Sunday, I'm starting it again. It may be about "less", but is contains more than my brain could take in with a single read.

Leo, the owner of the wildly popular ZenHabits blog, has written one of those classics that apply to both our business and personal lives. In brief, The Power of Less is a treatise on the small steps (see my blog post on the Kaizen way) we can take to simplify our lives and in the doing find far more joy and success than all of our manic behavior could produce.

The book begins with Leo's own story of being an debt, overweight, smoking, workaholic who rarely saw his family. His life was chaotic and he never had time for the things and people he loves. (Sound familiar?) Then, he made the choice to simplify his life in small continuous ways; first he quit smoking by focusing all of his energy on that one goal.

Then, he attacked other goals, one at a time, like becoming a runner, eating healthier, starting a successful blog, and getting out of debt.

One by one the goals were met (and exceeded). Leo has run two marathons, has doubled his income, became a vegetarian, decluttered his home, lost 45 pounds, and spends quality time with his family. Today, Leo's blog is one of the top 50 blogs in the world, with more than two million readers a month. If that doesn't make you want to adopt his principles, nothing will!

The Six Principles of Simple Productivity
The Power of Less is divided into two sections; the first walks readers through the six principles of simple productivity:

1. Set limitations
2. Choose the essential
3. Simplify
4. Focus
5. Create habits
6. Start small

Part II details practical tips for implementing the six principles in key areas including e-mail, health, time management, filing, Internet, and decluttering your work space.

Simple Doesn't Mean Easy
While the principles are simple, it doesn't necessarily mean they're easy to implement. Anyone who has started a new habit (like a diet) knows that for sure. However, with small continuous improvement, the principles are achievable.

For example, Leo has weaned himself off e-mail to checking only twice a day. I probably check e-mail 100 times a day - - and just as a nutritionist wouldn't ask us to cut out every unhealthy food in one day, they would encourage us to cut-back. For me, that would mean (first) KNOWING how many times a day I check e-mail, and then (second) cutting back a little, then a little more, and then a little more. Until I reach a point that e-mail doesn't rule my existence.

The Principle of Choosing the Essential
While all of the principles serve as stepping stones to a life of more, the one that hangs me up the most is the principle of choosing the essential. And it's a bugaboo that's been with me life-long. As Leo says, once you know the essentials you'll be in a position to eliminate the chaos of incoming information, commitments, and clutter.

Thankfully, the section on choosing the essential has a series of questions to help define what's essential - and this is the section I'm currently re-reading - because it's the most difficult for me. I know absolutely that once I have those essentials defined, the remaining principles will be far easier to integrate.

The reason this principle is so important to me is that in knowing the essentials, I'll know which projects or tasks have the highest priority - because they're the ones that will have the biggest impact on the essentials. For me, this is the key to having the life of what truly IS more.

Putting the Principles Into Action
As a life-long "clean desk" advocate, I was ahead of the game on the decluttering principle, but way behind on e-mail, Internet, commitments, and health.

Fortunately, simplifying these areas are a matter of making small continuous changes (the Kaizen way), instead of radical ones. For instance, one of the life issues discussed is making time for what we love. As a self-employed person, I get so caught in the flow of work that I forget what I really love.

However, once prompted by The Power of Less, I really thought about what I love - then I made a list, and one-by-one will begin implementing them in my life.(and being a true Kaizen-ista) will NOT try to take on all of them at once!) By the way, my list includes learning to kayak, to play the harmonica, and hiking.

A Perfect Time for a Perfect Book
As I wander the Internet, I hear over and over the desire for simplification. The entrepreneurs I know have all hit the wall at the same time - - they're on information overload, have massive (and unattainable) to-do lists, poor health, wretched time management, cluttered desks and minds, and no fun.

If ever there was a time for The Power of Less, it's now.
0Comment| 253 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I love the Zen Habits blog and really connect with Leo's simple message of cutting the clutter and living a simpler life in order to do and achieve the things that are of real value, so I got a lot out of this book's simple reminders and encouragement.

I didn't like it in audio format, though, which I explain in my video review, so while the content deserves five stars, the robotic, slick narrator and the way the format of the book worked with being read aloud brought the star rating down.

One other minor quibble was that Leo mentioned "previous posts" and "later posts" in his book a lot. Some of the content was obviously written for a blog format and it wasn't edited vigorously enough to catch these mistakes.

Other than that, though, the content is exactly what I expected from reading Leo's blog and I enjoyed the book a lot. It's a good kick in the rear if you need help getting fired up to achieve your goals through simplicity.
44 comments| 155 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 3, 2009
First, let me say this: The content in this book is worth 5 stars. Leo is the absolute best at making anyone realize what is important in the world, and act on it. If you've had it with other self-empowerment books, the kind that use phrases like "thrive off of synergy" and "discover the true version of yourself" and "unlock the millionaire within you" and other absurdities that clog the self-improvement industry of books, then The Power of Less will be an absolute relief. The general mantra is easy to swallow and understand: focus your efforts on one thing and you will be more effective.

The book is simple and direct with little fluff. It's aimed at everyone, not just the big-time business managers and the yuppie type. As a student and writer, I find that 7 Habits and Getting Things Done and the like, while they're great, just don't feel like they're aimed at me. The Power of Less is, though. And it's undiluted greatness. There's no New Age-y stuff in here, nothing really abstract. Just solid, practical approaches to the problems that everyone faces.

Here's the one catch, though: at least 85-90% of the content in this book is fundamentally equivalent to what's been posted on his blog, Zen Habits (zenhabits dot net). Leo's techniques rely on simplicity so much that there are really only so many ways you can spin it.

There are a lot of reasons to buy this book: it goes a little bit deeper in its explanations, it is a great summary and introduction to everything on Leo's site, it supports Leo after all of the hard work he has put in to helping your average Joe like me make his life and his world a little bit better, and it introduces his ideas in a logical order.

But you can get explanations the same fundamental approaches and set of tips for free on Zen Habits, so if you're looking to pinch pennies while still taking serious steps forward in your life, you might instead just want to go through his site.

This review is not a knock on the book at all. It's just a reminder that there's a free digital alternative. That's a tip Leo himself would approve of.
1313 comments| 292 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 6, 2009
First, let me say that the BIG ideas in this book - about single-tasking, focusing on completion, not taking on too many projects at once - are simple yet brilliant and very helpful. However, when Babauta gets down to specifics and his "system," things fall apart a bit. Ironically, this philosophy, based on simplicity, gets a bit convoluted, complicated, and at times doesn't seem completely thought-through. For example, the book prescribes that we focus on one habit at a time, focus on one goal at a time, focus on 3 projects a time, and work on only 3 tasks per day. That's a lot of confusion and multi-focus for a single-tasking book. Also, his strategies seem to fit better for someone, like him, who is self-employed and can work how and when he likes. As a teacher, I cannot focus on three projects at any one time, as I have 35 kids on my caseload with a multitude of needs. Not everything fits neatly into "projects" when you are not a free-lance writer. So, all in all, good ideals, not so great strategies.
55 comments| 92 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 28, 2012
If you are truly trying to limit yourself to the essential - skip this book.

As a public school teacher my life is divided into two very different patterns. During the school year my life is very much dedicated to the needs of others. During summer vacations I put all that aside and devote time to myself.

I picked up this audiobook with hopes to find tips to help me achieve greater effectiveness in both these aspects of my life. During the summer, when I set my own goals and priorities, I imagine my life fits the model that Babauta seems to be targeting. My life appears to be more similar to his as a self-employed writer. Unfortunately, his tips offer nothing new and should be evident to anyone with common sense. For example, he suggests that if you have to email a client who typically spends $100 on your business versus attending a meeting with a client who spends thousands of dollars you should...attend the meeting. Really? Does that really need to be said?

During the school year, I feel my life leads a pattern that the author obviously can't relate to. He doesn't appear to have experience working in an enviroment where others determine your prioritites. Babauta outlines an example of two reporters. One journalist writes several stories during the week. The second journalist picks one article, devotes days to extensive research, and writes an award winning article. Great. But how does this apply to the many of us with jobs that require us to juggle multi-tasks. Believe me I would love to say "I am devoting this week to planning award winning science lessons. Math, language arts, parent communication, meetings with administration, mentoring new teachers, student safety, classroom management, data analysis, and cupcake parties are not essential and can wait." An impossible goal...or at least I didn't find any worthwhile tips in this book to demostrate how it would be possible.
0Comment| 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 25, 2009
I have read dozens of time management books (and reviewed the best of those I have read here on Amazon).

Leo Babauta has written the best I have read on this subject. Most of the others focus on systems; his focus on habits is key to making a quantum leap in time management results.

My reviews are generally honor of the author's philosophy, I will demonstrate the Power of Less. This book is the best!
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 3, 2009
This little book is not about giving up everything, but rather it is about keeping only what really matters--in things, in commitments, and in life.

"Simplifying isn't meant to leave your life empty--it's meant to leave space in your life for what you really want to do..."

Here is an easy to read book perfectly timed for the New Year. It is not just another book on dealing with clutter, but more of a how-to book on dealing with the realities of life today. Whether you want to learn another language, keep your desk in order, loose weight, or whatever, the author sets you on your way to actually accomplishing your goals.

"...focus on doing less, but doing it more effectively and, in effect, accomplishing more while reducing stress."

Check out the chapter headings:

1. Why Less is Powerful
2. The Art of Setting Limits
3. Choosing the Essential, and Simplifying
4. Simple Focus
5. Create New Habits, and the Power of Less Challenge
6. Start Small

7. Simple Goals and Projects
8. Simple Tasks
9. Simple Time Management
10. Simple Email
11. Simple Internet
12. Simple Filing
13. Simple Commitments
14. Simple Daily Routine
15. Declutter Your Work Space
16. Slow Down
17. Simple Health and Fitness
18. On Motivation
0Comment| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 26, 2012
First off let me admit that I really like Babauta: I have used something like a modified version of Zen to Done for number of years, I love the Zen insight he provides (When eating, just eat), etc. And I also enjoyed this book. But there are two significant problems:

1. It is too long

2. It lacks evidence

(1) The core insight of the book is that we should all reduce. This is a valuable insight. Many of us could do well to take it on. It is especially valuable when it comes to productivity systems themselves. They should be stripped back to only the essentials. And Babauta recommends this. All good so far. BUT why then does a book preaching reduction stretch to 18 chapters? At the very least there is a bit of a tension here.

(2) More significantly, never are we given any hard empirical evidence in support of Babauta's claims. This is pretty typical of books in the productivity/self help space. All you ever see is a bunch of claims and possibly the odd anecdote about how it changed the author's life. I want evidence. Consider a concrete example: Babauta preachers the virtues of a clean desk. Does he give us evidence? Well he says it allows you to focus and it gives you Zen-like calm. But these are just his claims: we don't get any hard evidence to support them. Is there evidence for them? I don't even know how you could support the claim that a clean desk gives you Zen-like calm for the simple reason I don't know what Zen-like calm looks like. What about focus? Actually what hard evidence there is (and there ain't much) points in the other direction. Messy desks (and messy "shop fronts") actually promote clearer, more focused thinking. So not only does Babauta failed to give evidence for his claims, but when we cast our net further for what little evidence there is, we find it is pointing in exactly the opposite direction.

All that said, I still kinda like the book. In fact, I would recommend it, but I would also recommend you read it critically. Read it as a catalyst for your own thinking about focusing your life. It is a good book to get you thinking. And perhaps that is all Babauta wanted to do and all we should expect.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 30, 2008
Ours is a world of excess. Most people complicate their lives while accumulating more of just about everything. Leo Babauta explodes the "more" myth with The Power of Less.

He really does understand the concept of simplifying a life, as his blog, [...] has grown exponentially to be one of the leaders in the personal productivity field in the past two years.

A look at his blog shows that his writing style is easy to get into and enjoy. The Power of Less is the same. You'll be engrossed in no time.

And know this, Leo doesn't just write about his topic -- he lives it!

The Power of Less will be a game changer -- a life changer -- for all who dig in and follow the plan.
0Comment| 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 21, 2009
To be honest, I haven't finished the book. I agree to a point with the other reviewers. There are some sensible ideas presented, and the book is easily digested. I probably could have read it in one sitting, if I'd felt the desire. But I didn't. The reason is that I feel that, while he has some interesting and fairly important points and ideas, it's a bit simplistic or perhaps unrealistic for everyone. I, for example, am a single mother who works full time in middle management. My lists of things to do are based, to an extent, on other people's needs (my children) and other people's demands (my supervisors and my clients). When new tasks are presented to me, I cannot just put them in my "in box" to wait till I'm done with what I'm working on. I think perhaps the ideas presented in the book work for people who are running their own businesses, entrepreneurs etc. who aren't needing to respond to the needs of others on an ongoing basis, and might I add (at the risk of sounding gender biased) most probably male. You can't let certain things wait in my world, I do get interrupted and I need to be responsive to those interruptions. I think as the author says that less is more, we can fill our lives with fewer demands, but in my world what that frequently means is shortchanging myself, because the demands of others can't be chosen. It's just a fact of my job and home life. My clients have their needs to which I must respond or I risk losing them and running the business into the ground, my supervisor has things she wants me to do which I must do or risk losing my job, and my children need dinner on the table and clean clothes in their drawers or I get reported to protective services. So if I'm going to have a rich and fulfilled life, I need to fit in the things that are personally fulfilling in between the things that I must do, and that means at times having too much in my life. I feel the idea is perhaps too luxurious for most people working to live.
22 comments| 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse