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The Power Of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential

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With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it's amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it's amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the better. The Power of Less will show you how to: Break any goal down into manageable tasks Focus on only a few tasks at a time Create new and productive habits Hone your focus Increase your efficiency By setting limits for yourself and making the most of the resources you already have, youll finally be able work less, work smarter, and focus on living the life that you deserve.


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With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it's amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it's amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the better. The Power of Less will show you how to: Break any goal down into manageable tasks Focus on only a few tasks at a time Create new and productive habits Hone your focus Increase your efficiency By setting limits for yourself and making the most of the resources you already have, youll finally be able work less, work smarter, and focus on living the life that you deserve.

30 review for The Power Of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This book can change your life. It did mine before I was finished reading it, and that was totally unexpected by me. I thought the book was about paring down the material things in life, but it's only marginally about that. It's about finding what's important and essential in your life and getting back control and personal time to do the things you love. The book is easy to read and could be a fast read, but I suggest you take your time. Try out some of the suggestions. They work! The concepts This book can change your life. It did mine before I was finished reading it, and that was totally unexpected by me. I thought the book was about paring down the material things in life, but it's only marginally about that. It's about finding what's important and essential in your life and getting back control and personal time to do the things you love. The book is easy to read and could be a fast read, but I suggest you take your time. Try out some of the suggestions. They work! The concepts in the book can pertain to almost anything in your life -- it's really that versatile. This author has his priorities right and wants to help all of us get them right. Apply what you learn here to your life, work, health, weight, addictions, just about anything, and you can begin today to make changes that will produce a happier, more productive you. And it's not hard. Baby steps. Easy, easy. Everyone should read this book -- every person who isn't already on Mr. Babauta's plan or plans for making changes that will change lives. If you're stressed, have too much on your plate, never have time to relax and do things you're passionate about, read this. If you want to make changes in almost any area of your life, read this book. Everything about this book is doable and will work if you will just do it. If you give up easy, well there's a chapter on that too. The book makes an excellent gift, but keep a copy for yourself to refer to over and over. It's a keeper.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    There are two types of people in this world: those who don't like reviews that start by sorting people into simplifying categories, and those who do. Goodbye to the former. Now we're left with those who appreciate the clarity and insight provided by lightly-held categories and stereotypes. And we move on. I'm not sure who this book is for, or whom. Bc there are three types of people in this crazy, crazy world in which we live, in. 1. Those who are naturally structured and "have it together"; 2. There are two types of people in this world: those who don't like reviews that start by sorting people into simplifying categories, and those who do. Goodbye to the former. Now we're left with those who appreciate the clarity and insight provided by lightly-held categories and stereotypes. And we move on. I'm not sure who this book is for, or whom. Bc there are three types of people in this crazy, crazy world in which we live, in. 1. Those who are naturally structured and "have it together"; 2. Those who are labeled in elementary school as "responding well to structure", but that turns out to be a euphemism for disorganized and scattered; and 3. Those who actually respond well to structure. -1's won't read this book, (although frankly they cd benefit from the holistic, Zen-like approach of this guru) -- so the book is not for them. -2's don't need this book bc they will never "have it together", nor should they strive for that -- so the book is not for them. -3's have developed a way to force external structure on themselves (which they can respond to), and so will write the next instantiation of this book -- so it's not for them. Which leaves nobody for the book. Except maybe the other half of 3's (bc there are two types of 3's in this world), who will benefit from a social media manifestation of this approach, where they can blog and comment to each other about how to apply the Master's teachings in the nitty-gritty of everyday life, and help each other stay accountable. But the author already had a blog just like this, just as I described, already, before he wrote the book. So why the book? Don't know. Don't buy it, just google the author. Having said all that, I grokked this book and felt like I was writing it while I read it (like how I felt with Screwtape Letters and Bottle Rocket), bc I have nearly identical systems to this guy. So I was pissed I didn't write the book myself and get famous, which is always a great sign for a book, when I hate it for being so trivial that even a Josh cd think of it. But getting past my issues, I completely and deeply agree with the book's purpose and ideas, and even viewed critically, I agree with 95% of the expression. This never happens, so either I'm growing up or the world is shrinking. But if you're a 3, and still struggling to respond well to structure, go find this web site and try it out.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anna Bearne

    I have some problems with this book. The general principles seem pretty straightforward, but as you read deeper into it, you become confused. 'Pick one...', 'pick five...', 'make a list of three...', 'just one at the time', 'single task - when you showering or driving don't think about anything else', vs. 'use your driving time to think about...', 'write down' vs. 'go paperless' etc. It's all simple and useful, but for a book on setting limitations, it could have a much simpler hierarchy of I have some problems with this book. The general principles seem pretty straightforward, but as you read deeper into it, you become confused. 'Pick one...', 'pick five...', 'make a list of three...', 'just one at the time', 'single task - when you showering or driving don't think about anything else', vs. 'use your driving time to think about...', 'write down' vs. 'go paperless' etc. It's all simple and useful, but for a book on setting limitations, it could have a much simpler hierarchy of things, so you don't get lost in what's a Goal, what's a Task, what's a Habit and what's a Commitment. Also, the examples could be more diverse - not everyone has a creative job or an office job (or any job for that matter), not everyone lives in a house or an independent household. Of course the reader can apply the tips to her or his own life, but it would be nice if the author himself included some examples showing a different lifestyle than his own (instead of repeating himself quite a few times). I share my room and my desk with my partner, and we share the rest of the house with another person. I may not always be able to make the changes I want in a space that doesn't belong to me. Of course there's ways around it, you can negotiate with your partner or flatmates, and I'm pretty sure the author had to make some compromises with his wife and kids, but he just doesn't mention it. The book tends to overlook other people's needs and habits, portraying them as either YOUR 'quality time' partners, people that help YOU stay motivated, people YOU report to, or people that interfere with YOUR schedule - but not as active subjects with their own schedules you need to respect and sometimes cooperate with. That being said, I would recommend this book anyway, especially as a guide to setting and pursuing important goals in life. It helps to stop and think what's really important and what's not necessary. I just wouldn't say that it's a simple recipe for a life change that anyone can achieve.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Although it is ridiculous on the face of it to take advice on how to simplify your life from a man who has fathered six children, this audiobook resonated with me right now and I've already implemented at least one thing from it this week that has been helpful. There's nothing new here. So what's the value added? First of all, it's just refreshing that the author doesn't make false claims about bringing us some amazing new science of whatever. Secondly, the narrator has a friendly, encouraging Although it is ridiculous on the face of it to take advice on how to simplify your life from a man who has fathered six children, this audiobook resonated with me right now and I've already implemented at least one thing from it this week that has been helpful. There's nothing new here. So what's the value added? First of all, it's just refreshing that the author doesn't make false claims about bringing us some amazing new science of whatever. Secondly, the narrator has a friendly, encouraging tone. Beyond that, it's a compact compendium of practical action items that otherwise would require wading through a bathtub full of books and a lot of unnecessary blah blah. Because the author is just repeating standard advice from all over the place, some of the details are somewhat incorrect (e.g. low fat diet) or self-contradictory or trite, but the general approach is to spew out all kinds of tips to choose from to see what works for the reader. Given that repeated admonition, I can let the minor weaknesses slide. The recurring theme is how to find the smallest meaningful step today to focus on, so as to make useful long-term system changes. In a world where burn-out and related problems are rampant, useful advice along these lines could help lots of people.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mike Gibbs

    While this was a pleasant and easy read, Babauta's approach to personal productivity is a little impractical for normal people. Much of his advice regarding the workplace requires a high degree of autonomy to implement. Additionally, much of his advice regarding the workplace will seem very familiar to those of you who have read anything by David Allen. Every page or two you encounter concepts like project lists, tickler files, one-way inboxes, breaking projects into discrete actions, or having While this was a pleasant and easy read, Babauta's approach to personal productivity is a little impractical for normal people. Much of his advice regarding the workplace requires a high degree of autonomy to implement. Additionally, much of his advice regarding the workplace will seem very familiar to those of you who have read anything by David Allen. Every page or two you encounter concepts like project lists, tickler files, one-way inboxes, breaking projects into discrete actions, or having a single alphabetical reference system. Babauta does do a good job of modernizing a few of David Allen's GTD concepts (such as recommending digitizing as many documents as possible when archiving). The parts of this book that were more original were very good, such as Babauta's advice regarding achieving goals one at a time or how to stay motivated. Overall, this was a decent book that might help you realize that the best way to achieve the things you want in life is to get the right things OUT of your life instead of constantly adding more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fani *loves angst*

    3 stars I read a few books about minimalism lately, because truth is I tend to be both a hoarder and excessive buyer, habits I need to stop as they're wrecking havoc with my nerves every time I open my closet, as well as my finances. This book however is mainly about living with less commitments and not less stuff (even though cleaning your clutter is mentioned briefly). And of those commitments, two kinds are discussed in length: work commitments and those concerning health and fitness. For 3 stars I read a few books about minimalism lately, because truth is I tend to be both a hoarder and excessive buyer, habits I need to stop as they're wrecking havoc with my nerves every time I open my closet, as well as my finances. This book however is mainly about living with less commitments and not less stuff (even though cleaning your clutter is mentioned briefly). And of those commitments, two kinds are discussed in length: work commitments and those concerning health and fitness. For better or worse neither of those were of interest to me, as it's my after work hours that are stressing me out on a daily basis. Unfortunately, if you take out the passages about work, there's not much left to read in this book, since as far as I can tell, almost all chores at home are unavoidable. You can't say for example that cooking is unnecessary, or grocery shopping, or doing the laundry or the kids' soccer practice and certainly not their doctor's appointments. The author also says that you have to focus on each and every task you do and not let your mind/focus wonder elsewhere, but I feel that once again this is neither necessary nor applicable outside work; I understand the idea of focusing on one project at time, but do I really need to focus on only one of my sons' school progress and not my diet or the other son's progress at the same time? The message is IMO to take everything you read with a grain of salt, because everything works differently for everyone. Why the 3 stars you ask then? The first chapter: Setting limits. This chapter really was an eye opener. Our time is limited, 24 hours a day, no more, no less. In order to live a better/more peaceful life, you have to set some priorities about what you consider a 'need' and what a 'want' and also set time limits about certain tasks. The author uses the example of surfing the Internet or checking one's emails only at certain times each day, so you don't get carried away and ignore other stuff that's in fact more important to you. Also writing down a list of things and distinguishing between 'wants' and 'needs', makes it easier to decide not to spend money on yet another sweater, but to use them to take my kids for an evening out instead, as the second's more important to me. I think you get the idea here. The author also has one other proposal: when you want to do/eat/buy something that's not necessary, sit down and wait a little while; more often than not, the urge to do it will leave soon, as urges come in waves :P If after the wave passes (that could be 30 days for something you want to buy or 30' for a cigarette or burger you crave) you still want to do it, then go ahead and do it! I do like that idea very much and definitely plan to try it out, as impulsive buys are my biggest pitfall. So, unless you have some issues at work, read the first couple of chapters and skip the rest like I did. Even for those few pages, the book is worth reading after all, because it helps you realize that time is finite and your most valuable asset, so you'd better decide how you really want to spend it, insted of spending it doing a thousand meaningless chores that are neither necessary, nor joyful to you!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    I read it in less than a week, and I loved every sentence of it. If you want something, get it. If you want everything get it all, just one thing at a time. Live in the moment, whatever you're doing, do that, and only that. Slow down, and be happy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Manik Sukoco

    Since there are many other (excellent) reviews for this book, I won't repeat what has already been said more than this: this is a great book that explains how effective and powerful minimalism can be in your life. What I have not seen said, however, is the main point of this book: Living with less will make you a happier person. While Leo goes into great details about how to live with less, why it is good, how it can help, etc., the main point is that you will be happier. Not only by living with Since there are many other (excellent) reviews for this book, I won't repeat what has already been said more than this: this is a great book that explains how effective and powerful minimalism can be in your life. What I have not seen said, however, is the main point of this book: Living with less will make you a happier person. While Leo goes into great details about how to live with less, why it is good, how it can help, etc., the main point is that you will be happier. Not only by living with less things, but by adjusting your life and your mindset to desire less. By clearing your life, body, mind, and spirit of all clutter, you can focus on things important to you, and take the time to enjoy your life. This book is not intended to be a `quick fix` for life, instead it should be read as a lifestyle guide. The principles outlined in the book are best applied slowly, one at a time, over long periods of time, in order to build long lasting habits and practices. If you're looking for an excellent eye-opening book on minimalism, read this one!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kimber

    A mindful approach to effectively simplifying your life. He has enough tips and ideas for just about anybody. This is about slowing down, yet getting more done by only focusing on the most essential things in your life. We can't do everything but we can do what we need to do in a calm state of mind, not a hectic one....I have already applied his ideas to my life and gotten more done by simplifying--even on the job I slowed down and yet got more done...This is genius.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Leo Babauta writes: "There has never before been an age in which we could get so much done so quickly. There also has never before been an age in which we were so overwhelmed with information and tasks, so overloaded with e-mails and things to read and watch, so stressed by the incredible demands of our lives. "For many people these days, work is a constant stream of e-mails, of news and requests, of phone calls and instant messages, of papers and notes and files. The day starts with an in-box Leo Babauta writes: "There has never before been an age in which we could get so much done so quickly. There also has never before been an age in which we were so overwhelmed with information and tasks, so overloaded with e-mails and things to read and watch, so stressed by the incredible demands of our lives. "For many people these days, work is a constant stream of e-mails, of news and requests, of phone calls and instant messages, of papers and notes and files. The day starts with an in-box full of e-mails, and ends with an in-box just as full, and each e-mail represents a request for information or for actions that we don't have time to fulfill. We are drinking from a fire hose of information, with no idea of how to reduce the flow. "It's stressful and wasteful. And if we stop to think about it, it's not how we want to spend out lives." And he is completely right. We don't want to live stressed out lives, constantly coming and going but never arriving. We want to live lives that matter, lives that influence others, lives that are slow and thoughtful and deep. We want to live lives that are intentional, lives that create the pace rather than try to keep up with it. And that is exactly what The Power of Less is all about. Slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time, both simplifying and intensely focusing on the task or circumstance directly in front of us. So how are we to live this type of life? Are we to have a Waldenian character constrained to the woods, or grow with the times and learn to process the vast amounts of information we see in our everyday lives? The author proposes a dramatic middle ground for the way we consume information but not let ourselves be overloaded by it: That is "one where we can still enjoy access to vast amounts of information, still have instant communication when we want it, still get things done quickly—but one in which we choose how much we consume and do." In fact, everything in the book comes back to this simple statement: "Focus on the essential and allow everything else to drop away." While the first part of the book deals with the principles of living with less, the second part gets more practical in how to actually implement some of the theoretical ideas at the beginning—goals, projects, tasks, time management, e-mail, internet, filing, commitments, daily routines, decluttering your work space, slowing down, health and fitness, and motivation. Though pretty obvious, the simple way the author broke down how to achieve goals really stuck out to me: Choose a goal. Break it down into sub-goals. Break the sub-goals down into weekly actions, and those weekly actions into daily tasks. Then those daily tasks are going to be part of your MITs (Most Important Tasks) that you do every day. There was so much in here that seems like no-brainer common sense but, when you get in the hustle and bustle of life, is easily forgotten. It was fun to have an easy-to-read book that didn't take long at all, to remind me of all the practicalities of living a productive life that is rich in relationships and depth. Thanks Leo!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hollingsworth

    This book takes the premise that we are so wrapped up in being busy (because being busy is the new status that everybody seeks, "I work ergo I have status") that we are in fact far less productive than we actually believe. The author tells a compelling personal story of how he de-cluttered and minimalized his own life and as a result became physically fitter, lost weight, gave up smoking, paid off his debt, and built financial security. The bulk of the book is an easy to follow model which seeks This book takes the premise that we are so wrapped up in being busy (because being busy is the new status that everybody seeks, "I work ergo I have status") that we are in fact far less productive than we actually believe. The author tells a compelling personal story of how he de-cluttered and minimalized his own life and as a result became physically fitter, lost weight, gave up smoking, paid off his debt, and built financial security. The bulk of the book is an easy to follow model which seeks to establish a balance between focus and goal setting. The author argues that by working on one major goal at a time, with a realistic timeline, focus naturally follows - living in the now, de-cluttering, minimizing are all side benefits of becoming focused on one particular goal. I read this book last year, and have now spent 10 months following the model - it works! This is not a book for people who want to squeeze more out of every hour of the day in terms of productivity, but it is a book for people who are looking for increased productivity, whilst achieving better management of their time, and a far better quality and balanced life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Yoak

    I've looked for some time for a good secular book that looks into notions of things like meditation, mindfulness and such without all the mysticism. This book is squarely non-mystical and glances that target. Unfortunately, I couldn't get all of the value out of the audiobook as much of what I think will be valuable are exercises to be written down and done, practices to include in 10k, 30k and 40k gtd reviews and other things that you can't simply remember. I finished the audio a few days ago I've looked for some time for a good secular book that looks into notions of things like meditation, mindfulness and such without all the mysticism. This book is squarely non-mystical and glances that target. Unfortunately, I couldn't get all of the value out of the audiobook as much of what I think will be valuable are exercises to be written down and done, practices to include in 10k, 30k and 40k gtd reviews and other things that you can't simply remember. I finished the audio a few days ago and today just received a paper copy I'd ordered. This is a good enough book to read twice back-to-back, with the second time focused on doing. I was surprised, but it was tortuous to read in paper for some reason and I gave it up quickly. I think I'll just listen to it again in audio and take more notes, somewhere between a few months and a year out.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Willian Molinari

    It's a good book. It's repetitive and a bit outdated (I heard Google reader somewhere) but all the hints here are still valid. To summarize: focus is everything. Chose something you want to do and do it. Remove everything else that's not moving you toward your priorities and do what you have to do. He lists some actionables that can help you on this journey, but there's no miracle here (as expected), you just have to focus and get things done. For me it was a bit repetitive because I alread read It's a good book. It's repetitive and a bit outdated (I heard Google reader somewhere) but all the hints here are still valid. To summarize: focus is everything. Chose something you want to do and do it. Remove everything else that's not moving you toward your priorities and do what you have to do. He lists some actionables that can help you on this journey, but there's no miracle here (as expected), you just have to focus and get things done. For me it was a bit repetitive because I alread read about almost everything he says on this book, but I would recommend reading if you're not into minimalist, productivity and focus. Here are my notes for this book: * Focus on the essential, eliminate the rest * Do less but better things. Focus on quality, not quantity * Set limitations, it will help you to simplify to the essentials * Do fewer things but focus on the ones with the most impact * Look at your tasks and prioritize the ones with high impact * Apply limitations to every aspect of life to force yourself to make choices and choose the essential * Follow your values when deciding what is essential. What is more important to you? * Second question to find the essential: what are your goals? * Third: What do you love? * Four: what is important to you? * Five: what has the biggest impact? * Six: what has the most long-term impact? * Seven: needs vs wants. It's a good criterion when you're deciding to spend. What do you really need? These are the essentials, The wants you can eliminate if you want * Eight: eliminate the non-essential. Example: wash the car and pay the Bills. You can totally eliminate wash your car and focus on the payment -- so... thinking like that you will never wash the car.... * You can apply these questions in many areas of your life: what commitments in your life are essential? Use the questions to prioritize your goals, you can always get back to the other goals later * Remove tasks that are not important, delegate the ones you can delegate and focus on the essential * To get into the state of flow, wind something you're passionate about and then get rid of distractions for a period of time * When people want something but you don't think it's essential, learn to say no. Saying no is prioritization of the essential. Make your reasoning clear and they will respect your time and appreciate your respect for their time. * Shut down everything and focus. If you feel the urge to check your email (or any other external thing), stop, take a deep breath and get back to the task * If some idea comes up when you're focusing, write it down to your inbox and get back to the task * Process your inbox every predetermined interval, between one task and another * Become aware of your thoughts. Awareness brings change. Don't beat yourself about it, be aware, let them go, and focus on the present * Focus on one thing. If you're walking, just walk and feel the present. * Reporting your progress to a group of people helps. When you see a group of people doing great, so can you * Set your MITs (most important tasks) every morning. Make this a habit. * Check email just twice a day * It's better to have a small but constant improvement than a big one. Small improvements tend to last because they become a habit * Start with just a small task of a project instead of trying to tackle everything at once * Declutter your desk and your life. Do it in small steps * Achieving a goal takes energy, focus, and motivation. All of them are highly requested virtues nowadays * If a goal is too big, break it into sub-goals. Instead of "become a lawyer" use "get into the law school". No more than one-year goals. * Add 3 priority tasks to your list every day, and at least one must have an MIT that move yourself towards one of your goals. Do it as the first task, in the morning. Whatever else you accomplish will be an extra. * Stacking pager doesn't work. Use a file and a simple alphabetical system to file. File it right away. * Take an inventory of your commitments: work, side-work, family, kids, city, religion, hobbies, home (stuff to do at home), online communities, and others * Create a short list of things that contribute to your life and values. Leo's list includes: 1. Spend time with his life and family. 2. Writing 3. Running 4. Reading. These are his essential commitments, what are yours? * Eliminate non-essential commitments to you will have time for your essential commitments * Don't try to eliminate everything at once. Eliminate one by one, starting with the easiest one * It's hard to say no to other people, but keep in mind that every request is a demand of your time and your time is limited, so you have to spend it with what matters most to you * If you're a morning person, use your morning to get things done. Use your evenings to plan for the next day, declutter, organize, wind down, write, read, be grateful, etc * Train your focus to accomplish more. A good exercise is a meditation. Do some meditation sessions where you will just close your eyes and focus on your breeding * How to focus: * 1. Chose the work you love * 2. Chose important tasks to do * 3. Chose tasks with the right difficulty. If it's too difficult, you will not understand it enough to be able to concentrate * 4. Find your quiet peak time. The time you will have a quiet environment and peak energy * 5. Clear away distractions to focus * Take the time to appreciate what you've done after your focus time * Drive slow, eat slow, have a good diet and exercise routine * To help with motivation, don't start things right away. Set a date and get excited about it * Do not miss two days in a row. We all miss one day sometimes but don't miss the second one or it will totally demotivate the rest of the week * Find pleasure on what you're doing. It would be hard to stick to a habit if you can't find any pleasure in it. Look for the good parts and find the things you like.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lyle

    Leo addresses many important issues in improving your life, such as the power of habit, and how one should make only small changes at a time. I read this book already sold on becoming a minimalist, and wanted some practical advice. I like Leo's writing style - very friendly and helpful, and shows the wisdom of experience. However, despite his emphasis on making small changes, it isn't clear how to get started with his program. Each chapter gives a different strategy and it's not clear how to apply Leo addresses many important issues in improving your life, such as the power of habit, and how one should make only small changes at a time. I read this book already sold on becoming a minimalist, and wanted some practical advice. I like Leo's writing style - very friendly and helpful, and shows the wisdom of experience. However, despite his emphasis on making small changes, it isn't clear how to get started with his program. Each chapter gives a different strategy and it's not clear how to apply them all together. He talks about having One Goal at a time (6-12 months). But also three projects (1-4 weeks each), one of which should be related to the goal. So, from where do I draw my other projects? We should also have three Most Important Tasks for the day. One of the MITs should be related to one of your goals - but wait, you should only have One Goal. And then later he says each MIT should be goal-related, or related to one of your three projects. And to batch small tasks like email. You should do all the MITs first thing in the day, just after drinking some water to wake you up. But wait - what if I can only a task at the office? Or only when I'm out and about? Or only in the evening? And when exactly am I supposed to get in that meditation, exercise, or a healthy breakfast? So I personally start with the meditation, then exercise, and breakfast. I set up MITs for personal things. If one of them is small I might do it before work or during break. Then I get to work, and set up my MITs, and start working on a work-related one. But I do most of my personal MITs in the evening. His lack of distinction between work and personal life makes things problematic for those of us who have day jobs. He says to just have three projects, split between work and personal time. It makes much more sense to me to have two projects at work, and two projects at home, at any given time. He says that at work our boss may be choosing our projects, and we should talk the boss into limiting it to three - so does that leave us with no personal projects? I think he is biased by his own work-from-home experience. He also says not to make appointments - just schedule time spontaneously with your friends. Well, you may just find that when you do this, they already have plans. It's respectful to other people to schedule appointments. Then he talks about making a Short List of five priorities. He talks about commitments, sometimes as equivalent to priorities, sometimes as a subdivision of them. Don't do anything that's not on this list - but cut down the commitments gradually. How are these priorities/commitments supposed to be related to the goals/projects? He doesn't really explain. He says he has only four priorities: Spending time with his wife and kids, writing, running, and reading. So, I guess he doesn't have any other friends. He never visits any other family. He never spends any time managing his money. He never participates in community activities, or takes any interest in politics. It doesn't seem that eating is even a priority for him. Maybe I'm being picky, but I have a hard time making this whole approach practical. It seems that Leo is quite content with his selection of activities, never desires to do anything else, and is an introvert of the extreme order. But damn, he is a nice guy, and inspiring. I want to follow his system, but I think it needs tweaks, for me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I think this one is really worth 3 1/2 stars, but of course that's not an option here. It's not a bad book, it's just that I think there are better and more practical productivity books out there. I think it's most effective when read as an addition to more rigorous, perhaps method-based productivity books, or if, in spite of having a system, things are still overwhelming you. It has it's good parts - Babauta makes good points about slowing down life's pace and not trying to do everything at I think this one is really worth 3 1/2 stars, but of course that's not an option here. It's not a bad book, it's just that I think there are better and more practical productivity books out there. I think it's most effective when read as an addition to more rigorous, perhaps method-based productivity books, or if, in spite of having a system, things are still overwhelming you. It has it's good parts - Babauta makes good points about slowing down life's pace and not trying to do everything at once. Single-tasking, limiting the number of things you divide your attention between, consciously slowing down while driving are definitely all things that help us to be less stressed - but I also wonder how long it's been since the author was in a real-life office environment; whether he ever went to his boss and said "From now on I'm only going to work at three projects at a time". Sure, some bosses may be sympathetic and some people may be able to get away with just doing it and not telling anyway, but I suspect the majority of people won't be able to follow through on this one. From my own experience, generally I find myself in a team that hasn't enough people, where we report to someone who is reporting to someone else, who is reporting to someone else again, and at each level of that heirarchy projects are being invented and pushed down the chain to us lowly minions at the bottom who get stuck with trying to achieve all this with little option to push back. It's a brilliant theory, but I don't think it's terribly practical. That said, it's quite an interesting book to read - it's pretty well written and the chapters are quite short and split into subsections - very much web-writing style, which makes it good to pick up and put down in short chunks of the day. It makes a good add-on read to a more intensive productivity book such as David Allen's Getting Things Done. It's easy to get carried away with setting up new systems and making lists of everything you want to do and then wanting to start on them all - Babauta's book gentles that feeling and reminds us that if we really want to achieve things, then we need to approach them with moderation and control.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alissa Thorne

    This book espouses a philosophy that I acknowledge the wisdom of: focus your attention on the things that really matter, in part by cutting the things that matter less. There were some solid chapters with good material--one that summed up a lot of the most valuable aspects of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, and another chapter or on forming or changing habits. That being said, I didn't feel as though I walked away with the feeling of being fired up about how to apply This book espouses a philosophy that I acknowledge the wisdom of: focus your attention on the things that really matter, in part by cutting the things that matter less. There were some solid chapters with good material--one that summed up a lot of the most valuable aspects of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, and another chapter or on forming or changing habits. That being said, I didn't feel as though I walked away with the feeling of being fired up about how to apply this philosophy. It may have been more impactful to someone not already exposed to what is considered common wisdom in the productivity/live-hacking scene: multitasking, both on the micro and macro scale, is generally counterproductive. Higher quality and more sustainable work is achievable through focus and a slower pace. Finally, and ironically, I felt like it got unfocused towards the end. While I can see the relationship between the authors approach to slowing down in eating and driving to his philosophy in slowing down and focusing more in life in general, these topics seemed both ancillary to the core message, plus kinda scoldey. I skipped the last 45 minutes or so of the book for that reason.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    As always with this type of book, there are a few good ideas that I'll try, and quite a few more that make me scratch my head and ask, "who could get away with this?" I certainly want to simplify and focus in the new year (2016) and probably the major idea I like from this book is that of choosing the three most important things I want to accomplish at the very start of the day. My job revolves around a lot of interruptions, changes, and new tasks, but it's important that I don't lose sight of As always with this type of book, there are a few good ideas that I'll try, and quite a few more that make me scratch my head and ask, "who could get away with this?" I certainly want to simplify and focus in the new year (2016) and probably the major idea I like from this book is that of choosing the three most important things I want to accomplish at the very start of the day. My job revolves around a lot of interruptions, changes, and new tasks, but it's important that I don't lose sight of what I judge to be most important that day. Some of the author's suggestions are downright unusual. My favorite wacky idea is that of not setting appointments with people, at all. Yikes. That might work if everyone used the same planning and organizing principles, but ideas like that really fail to respect other people's working styles; some of us really depend on our appointments and meetings to make progress on things. One last grumble: I'm always a bit irked when authors throw around words like "Zen" and "nirvana" to mean what they want them to mean. I get what they're trying to say, but it makes me roll my eyes a bit.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    A typical pep-talk exhortation--nothing wrong with it, but not much new, either. Doesn't solve the problem of motivation, but then, who has solved that? One suggestion about dealing with communication on one's own schedule--how about the folks on the other end? Read this for a library book group--otherwise wouldn't have finished it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna Smallin Kuper

    I read this book for my Personal Development book club and honestly, didn't learn a whole lot of anything new as someone who has been on a mission to simplify my life and the lives of others. Still, the book is very well-written and served as a reminder to determine and then focus on priorities and let go of the rest.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    There was nothing new here for me, however, i read a lot of books on this subject, so it wouldn't be fair to blame the book for it. There is a lot of useful advice here for sure.

  21. 4 out of 5

    LynnDee (The Library Lush)

    The author was extremely repetitive but he had a lot of good points and tips that I am willing to try.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Ironically, a book about simplicity and "limiting yourself to the essential" has become the eighth addition to my currently-reading list! But I know other people have holds on it, so I only have two weeks to read it before it has to go back to the library. I read Leo Babauta's Zen Habits blog (http://zenhabits.net/) all the time, and find it challenging and inspiring. Interestingly, earlier this year I was reading Ten Natural Laws of Success and Time Management and contrasting his very organized, Ironically, a book about simplicity and "limiting yourself to the essential" has become the eighth addition to my currently-reading list! But I know other people have holds on it, so I only have two weeks to read it before it has to go back to the library. I read Leo Babauta's Zen Habits blog (http://zenhabits.net/) all the time, and find it challenging and inspiring. Interestingly, earlier this year I was reading Ten Natural Laws of Success and Time Management and contrasting his very organized, plan-based approach to figuring out your life with posts on Zen Habits at the time, telling me to stop planning and setting goals and just do the one thing I'm most excited about right now. They seemed to be totally opposite approaches. However, the early chapters of this book clearly contain the advice to figure out what you value, set your goals based on those values, and set your tasks to accomplish those goals. That's exactly what Ten Natural Laws said! I wonder if Leo Babauta has changed his mind about all this in the two years since this book came out, or if I misread his blog? In any event, I'm finding all this minimalism stuff very inspirational right now. Even if I never do the things the book and blog authors suggest, just reading these things is giving me a ton of energy to accomplish things I've been putting off for months. Three cheers for that! ... Ok, I rechecked the blog. Specifically, this post certainly seems to contradict all the planning, goal-setting, and list-making advice in this book. Very curious. Overall, I'd say this book was pretty good. The beginning was the most interesting, about why and how to limit yourself to less. The idea is that the 80/20 rule applies to life and to-do lists as much as it seems to apply to everything else, so cut out all but that results-dense 20%. You'll spend a lot less time and energy doing but accomplish a lot more that's actually important. He suggests picking one habit at a time to work on setting/changing, and throwing all of the energy you can at it for a month, until it's set. Then you can move on to the next one. He also suggests doing it in tiny baby steps so that you're assured of success at each step and you can build on the high of each of those small successes. Another suggestion is picking only one goal to work toward (a goal being a 6-12 month sort of thing), and picking three projects at a time to be your working projects. Projects are more like 1-month things. Pick the top three and work all three to completion before picking your next set of three off your master list. That way you can't have one just languishing around on the working list but never getting done. Focus on finishing them--at least one of your daily tasks should be on these projects. At the smallest level, he suggests picking three Most Important Tasks for each day and accomplishing those first so you make sure they get done. Again, these should relate to the three working projects. It's all very structured and organized. I find this sort of system effective for awhile, but somehow I never stick with it over the long haul. It's doing great for me right now, though, and I guess I'll enjoy that as long as it lasts. The second half of the book goes into detail about how to simplify different areas of your life, including email, eating, filing, exercise, etc. I found it a little too obvious to be all that interesting or inspiring, but I've kind of been working on this for a while now. Also, weight loss started taking over as the main example, so it started seeming more and more like advice from some tedious women's magazine. Finally, the last chapter is on motivation. Ways to be motivated at the start of a project: - start small - just work on one goal at a time - know why you're doing what you're doing, and have a good reason - really, really want it - commit publicly - get excited about what you're doing - build anticipation (start doing way less than you could, and don't let yourself do more, to keep yourself eager to do more) - print it and post it all over the place He also lists ways to get re-motivated as the project goes on. They were kind of obvious. Just keep doing stuff, and either you'll like it again eventually, or you won't, in which case maybe you should quit. And then, suddenly, the book ends! as if he got sick of writing it and just couldn't deal with writing a conclusion paragraph or anything. Maybe when he was limiting himself to the essential for this book, he decided a conclusion wasn't essential. Overall, some good stuff in here, but not a lot that I haven't seen before.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lacey Louwagie

    It's sort of ironic that my main criticism of this book is that it could have been a little shorter. Still, it IS a very helpful book in producing more productive habits, and I've been more productive since reading it and applying some of its techniques in my life. Leo Babauta's premise, that by trying to do too much, we actually accomplish less, is completely sound. His admonition to focus in a world full of distractions and multi-tasking is definitely needed. The most helpful suggestions for me It's sort of ironic that my main criticism of this book is that it could have been a little shorter. Still, it IS a very helpful book in producing more productive habits, and I've been more productive since reading it and applying some of its techniques in my life. Leo Babauta's premise, that by trying to do too much, we actually accomplish less, is completely sound. His admonition to focus in a world full of distractions and multi-tasking is definitely needed. The most helpful suggestions for me in this book were the "top three" ones. One is that you make a long list of ALL the ongoing projects you're working on (basically anything that can't be accomplished in a few hours.) Then, you choose three of those projects to focus on. You can NOT add any other projects to that list until you've completed all three. In a similar vein, each morning you're instructed to make a list of three "most-important-tasks." This is three tasks total, not three work tasks, three personal tasks, etc. And then, you start working on those tasks immediately, even before : gasp : checking your email. This is the tip that's helped me be most productive, and it's good for me to learn anew to prioritize every morning. Of course, usually I end up accomplishing much more than the three items on the list -- but I always at least accomplish those, meaning that every day the most important tasks get done. I've also been more productive due to fighting the urge to mujti-task, and resisting checking my email more than twice a day (personal) or once an hour (business). There are a few suggestions in this book I'm going to blatantly disregard, though, like the one about being "present" and not trying to "multi-task" while doing simple things like washing the dishes or driving. Um, you're giving this advice on an audiobook? My guess is that audiobook listeners are expert simple-task-multi-taskers. I am NOT giving up my audiobook time to be more "present" in boring tasks -- not having my audiobook "carrots" would probably make me a lot less productive in taking care of pesky chores, period! Also, it was annoying that the author assumed his priorities should be your priorities. While the specific advice about dealing with email seemed fairly universal (I think we're almost all overwhelmed by/addicted to our email), I could have done without all the detailed information about how to set up and stick to an exercise routine. And while there's some acknowledgment of how to handle situations where you don't get to dictate your own priorities, he doesn't really have anything to say about people who work jobs where there's no autonomy at all (desk staff, cashiers, etc.) The assumption is that most people reading the book have "office jobs," and the work suggestions will be most helpful for those folks. Still, most of the advice in the book can be modified to fit your particular situation. And of course, like any self-help book, it's only useful if you apply it! Luckily, the ideas in this book are pretty easy to apply (but I was still too lazy to do all of them. :p)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    This book was very obvious. While I picked up one or two good tips, the overall message was pretty common sense.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meaningless

    Tired of Cliched self-help books... I think i should write an Anti-Self help book

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    OK, so I have to admit that when I first picked this up I thought this would be more about minimalism and having less in the home but this turned out to be a book about breaking down your tasks (taking in less) and being more productive, which wasn't a bad thing as I was definitely interested in learning more about this too. What I liked about this book was that there was not a lot of 'fluff'. When I say fluff, I mean using long words that you have to use a dictionary to figure out what on earth OK, so I have to admit that when I first picked this up I thought this would be more about minimalism and having less in the home but this turned out to be a book about breaking down your tasks (taking in less) and being more productive, which wasn't a bad thing as I was definitely interested in learning more about this too. What I liked about this book was that there was not a lot of 'fluff'. When I say fluff, I mean using long words that you have to use a dictionary to figure out what on earth they are saying and long winded descriptions meaning that when you got to the end of that particular description you really didn't know what in the world was going on. This book was straight forward and was more of a point by point guide to this is what you should do and this is what I do. I was actually surprised to learn that a lot of this is what I already do but there was a lot here that I could do to improve myself and certainly a lot that I have taken away from this and now do myself. This is a great book to pick up if you want to find a way to structure your day to be more productive or just get more organised or if you have already found a bit of a way to doing that, there are great tips in here that you could add to your preexisting routine that could make the structure of your day a lot more easier. For more reviews, please check out the link below: Debra's Book Cafe Debs :-)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana Sung

    I'm a big fan of ZenHabits, Babauta's website. The suggestions and content in this book were very helpful. However, I felt that the structure was a bit all over the place for my tastes. He seemed to vacillate between optimizing your life through less and work-specific habits. But then he kinda wandered into exercise, which didn't ring true to his usual brand. It's still useful, and I have been employing many of the suggestions he makes about focus and habit formation in my life. I just didn't I'm a big fan of ZenHabits, Babauta's website. The suggestions and content in this book were very helpful. However, I felt that the structure was a bit all over the place for my tastes. He seemed to vacillate between optimizing your life through less and work-specific habits. But then he kinda wandered into exercise, which didn't ring true to his usual brand. It's still useful, and I have been employing many of the suggestions he makes about focus and habit formation in my life. I just didn't find the overall effect of the book as inspiring as his website.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex Fürstenau

    All in all a good and valuable read. I like the mantra of less because it can help in many areas (as he points out in the book). It's somewhat repetitive and you will know quite a lot if you are familiar with minimalism.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anne Egros

    I used both the book and the audio book and it really helps to be more productive. The tools and processes are simple, yet it takes practice to adopt them but it is really changing lives.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I waited a bit to write this review, to try the stuff out and see how it worked for me. This is one I will end up checking out over and over, and maybe eventually buying. He has some good ideas about lowering the stress in your life and not being overwhelmed by it all. This is a big problem for me, and as I've tried some of his suggestions, I have noticed a difference (for good) in my stress level. I'm a big "list" person and find myself being really stressed out everyday, because I NEVER get I waited a bit to write this review, to try the stuff out and see how it worked for me. This is one I will end up checking out over and over, and maybe eventually buying. He has some good ideas about lowering the stress in your life and not being overwhelmed by it all. This is a big problem for me, and as I've tried some of his suggestions, I have noticed a difference (for good) in my stress level. I'm a big "list" person and find myself being really stressed out everyday, because I NEVER get all I want done. His idea is to pick the three most important things and do them as soon as possible. Obviously that's not all you do, but once those are out of the way, things go much more smoothly. This has totally worked well for me. During my morning walk (one of my new "habits" that he and Beth inspired), I think about what my top three priorities for the day are. One of them is always to declutter for 30 minutes, which leads up to my "One Big Goal", and then two other things that MUST be done that day, the things that are MOST important. I get them out of the way, and then am usually so happy that I've actually accomplished what I NEED to that I can get more done. It's still not all, but it doesn't bother me as much and I can be satisfied with the things that I did do. The book is a lot to digest, and there are things in there (like most self-help books, I suppose) that I didn't agree with. For me, though, it really was helpful and I would recommend it to anyone trying to simplify their life, even if for no other reason than the motivation to do so.

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