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Review: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

I just finished reading Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less. I can’t help but share a few thoughts, as the book really clicked with me. (Granted, this should be no surprise given how much I enjoy Leo’s blog.)

The major premise of the book is that if we can identify the 4-5 most essential things in our lives–and do our best to eliminate everything else–we’ll be able to:

  • Enjoy life more fully.
  • Be more productive.

In the introduction to the book, Leo puts it this way:

Simplicity boils down to two steps:

  1. Identify the essential.
  2. Ignore the rest.

I had to do a double-take when I read this. I can’t get past how analogous this to what I’m always saying about investing. In fact, just a couple weeks ago–while working on the introduction to my next book–I had written this:

Oblivious Investing consists of a simple, two-part strategy:

  1. Invest in diversified portfolios of stocks via low-cost funds.
  2. Stick with the plan, ignoring all the short-term market fluctuations.

Jeez. It’s practically the same thing. (With, of course, the exceptions that Leo’s thesis applies to life in general, and that he’s much more concise.)

As you can imagine, I like Leo’s way of thinking.

A practical, usable approach to productivity

Leo’s book is the antithesis of other productivity/self-help books that recommend dramatic restructurings of our entire lives. Leo repeatedly urges taking things slowly. Like he does on his blog, Leo advises us to work on creating new habits.

For instance, rather than attempting to achieve a weight loss goal by deciding to run for 30 minutes everyday, Leo suggests that we start with 5 minutes each day. Do that consistently until it becomes a habit. Then try 7 minutes. He suggests always starting with a small goal. Small enough, in fact, that it seems almost too easy.

I love this approach. It increases the likelihood of sticking with the plan, because it prevents burnout. Similarly–as we all know–small, repeated actions can have a big impact over extended periods. (Dollar-cost-averaging, anyone?)

I have to say, for as much as I enjoy his blog, I enjoyed the book even more.

[Side note: Leo also recently put out a free ebook entitled Thriving on Less: Simplifying in a Tough Economy. Definitely worth the time to read, imo.]

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