Productivity Book Review :: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

December 26, 2013

First of all, can we all take note of the fact that that has GOT to be the single most boring post title I have ever come up with? Seriously, I struggled to come up with something pithy. Or even remotely clever. Then I just totally gave up and settled with something that’s just grammatically correct.

I’m sorry. I’m overly sober, that’s my problem.

Let’s get into this riveting topic, shall we?

Since we’re sneaking right up on the New Year, I thought you might be looking for a book to help you keep all those resolutions you’re making. This is the book for you.

You guys know I love all manner of business and productivity books. It’s a huge passion for me. Leave me alone with a book by Seth Godin and a pile of Inc. magazines and I’m happy.

So, it’s not surprising that I jumped at the chance to read “The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life” by Leo Babauta. If you know Leo, you know that his blog, Zen Habits, has been a massive hit for years. He’s now distilled his thoughts on productivity specifically into book form.


The book certainly contains wisdom from the blog and the material isn’t going to surprise any loyal reader. But, it’s still a very useful addition to your “productivity library”.

The Zen of Less principles apply throughout:

  • use less/own less/keep less
  • do less
  • choose the essential
  • focus more

All sound practices. In fact, these are tenets of my overall organizing belief system. Every time someone asks me “I’m so frazzled all the time, pulled in every direction. How do I organize my time?” My first thought is “Do less”. When someone asks what organizational tools she needs to tame all her stuff, I think “Own less, purge”. Less is more, as cliched as that sounds. (And yes, I played with “less is more” post titles. But they were all so lame.)

So Leo’s preaching to the choir with his overall philosophy. But, the book takes it further and puts these abstract concepts into action.

Along these lines, I especially recommend the “In Practice” section. It’s got detailed info on simplifying daily routines and how to accomplish more on projects using focus  and simple efficiencies. There’s also a great section on simplifying email and your internet life in general. Really useful, bite-sized, executable stuff in there. Like “Damn! Why haven’t I always been doing that?” kind of stuff.

Also of particular note is his real-world advice on how to create new and better habits. Instead of telling you what you should do and why, he walks you through how to get there, step-by-step. And his tone is really approachable, so you feel like it’s a friend giving you good advice, rather than a Productivity Expert giving a lecture.

Penelopes will take note that he’s big on the importance of lists, so we like his style.

Overall, Leo’s message is this: choose what’s essential, create good habits, set reasonable goals. And the book will give you the roadmap to get there.

Now if he could write a book on pithy blog titles, I’ll be in business.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine December 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Now I’m super-curious as to how to simplify my email and internet life… Hmm… Especially hearing that there were tips that surprised you– someone interested in simplifying and organizing!

I’ll put it on my list for 2014!

Jody Phillips December 28, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I’ve put it on hold at the library. I love books so much, and own way too many, but I only buy them when I know I’ll use them over and over. Thanks for the recommendation.

Alicia Parsons @ Atypical Type A January 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm

This book is sitting on my Kindle waiting for me once I’ve finished my current book. Good to hear you found it useful – I am particularly interested in the easy actionable steps and habit-building tips.

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