Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The Power of Less" by Leo Babauta

I'd already been interested in the a more simplified Zen lifestyle (I've been meditating daily for a couple years now) and picked up this book because the title was so representative of my direction recently: less stress, less hassle, stop messing around and focus on the things and people that are really important to me.

This book is not just a 'guide' for doing less; it seeks to bust what I call the Multitasking Myth: that is, it emphasizes that by doing 14 things at once (MSN, Emails, Music, Twitter, Sending Text messages, Eating...etc) you're actually way less efficient. You're way more stimulated but way less productive.

(Note: there has actually been a bit of talk on 'Multitasking' recently on the web with the recent launch of the Apple iPad, which, unlike a real computer, is generally designed to run just one program at the same time. Techies screeched, "How can you get anything done without Multitasking?"... Ironically, it might be a great built in 'feature')

In this sense, at its core, the message is to 'unitask'. Focus on the task at hand, and finish it. In the same vein as Tim Ferris (, Babauta is a big fan of batch processing things. Everything from Email to Errands, Bill Paying etc. And it struck me that its actually a very popular idea: just ask Henry Ford.

We've known the power of specialization of labour for so long, so... why are we so hung up on the idea (rather, the myth) of doing a bunch of different things at once? The truth is, to really hit your productivity groove, you gotta turn off the music, get off Facebook, and focus. The productivitity gains are amazing. I know, I know, the great thing about Multitasking is the flexibility, and the time-saving that comes from driving while you play with the your Blackberry, yada yada yada. Come on, what kind of brilliant writing have you done halfway through a Big Mac? Be honest.

Ok so that was just one element of the book, but I think it exemplifies what we're trying to do here, 'Power of Less' doesn't mean you're doing less, you'll actually do a ton of things, the point is less distraction and less wasted energy on things that, frankly, don't really mean much in the long run.

A big section of the book, Babauta talks about nailing 6 month to multiyear goals by breaking them down and, again, focusing on just a few goals concurrently (you could do just 1, ideally, but there are often time gaps between certain objectives, and we don't want to waste that time idly.)

If you find yourself getting sidetracked easily at work, (it's normal, we all do) definitely check this book out (as well as the aforementioned Tim Ferris classic, 4 hour Work week).

Follow this author on Twitter@zen_habits

No comments: