Minimizing to Be More Effective — Book Review: The Power of Less

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential … in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta (Hyperion, 2009)

I nearly stopped reading this book—that would have been a mistake. The Power of Less doesn’t have a powerful hook or interesting leading chapter. It’s not dogmatic or even persuasive. It’s simple. Like it’s title, it’s about “less.” Babauta, a reporter, editor, and speechwriter, is subtle. He likes to gently guide you in the right direction, hoping that you will in the midst of his do-it-yourself steps, see best way forward. It works.

We all know that focus is essential and difficult to come by because of the demands on our attention. We also all know that those with the most focus are likely to be the most successful. Babauta has probably close to 50 tips for how to be more focused. The best one is his suggestion to work on one major life change at a time and to introduce it into your life a little bit at a time. Because of this one piece of advice, Babuata says that he now rises at 4:30am (he gradually woke up 10 minutes earlier each day to learn to do so), has quit smoking, and lost nearly 40 pounds (e.g., pg. 150). He also says that this tip has made him more successful at getting things done—he takes one goal, breaks down into smaller goals (pg. 39), and then works on the smaller things with extreme focus (one thing a time). It’s great project management.

Religiously, I don’t think Babauta and I could be farther from each other, so some caution (and a filter) is necessary when reading this book.

Really all of Babauta’s advice comes down to discipline (introduced slowly), practice, and accountability. He says that discipline happens through slow changes and that practice can be done anywhere (e.g., focusing on eating when eating, rather than other things, to learn the discipline of focus). Accountability happens through announcing your goals and then telling others of your progress along the way—he suggests the forums on his personal website/blog for this.

I highly recommend you read this book. 4 stars.


(I read this book as part of Logos Bible Software’s “Read for Cash” program. The author and/or publisher in no way influenced my review. However, the links above are affiliate links, which means I will receive a very small amount if you click them and then make a purchase.)

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