Derek Sivers
The Power of Less - by Leo Babauta

The Power of Less - by Leo Babauta

ISBN: 1401309704
Date read: 2009-01-21
How strongly I recommend it: 5/10
(See my list of 360+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Set limitations. Become incredibly effective. Written by someone who's been successfully living this way for years.

my notes

We'll always come back to these two ideas:
1. Identify the essential
2. Eliminate the rest


1. Focus on the essential
2. Allow everything else to drop away


1. Set limitations
2. Choose the essential
3. Simplify
4. Focus
5. Create habits
6. Start small


By setting limitations, we must choose the essential. In everything you do, learn to set limitations.
By choosing the essential, we create great impact with minimal resources. Always choose the essential to maximize your time and energy.


Ask yourself the following questions about each task:
- Will this have an impact that will last beyond this week or month?
- How will it change my job, my career, my life?
- How will this further a long-term goal of mine?
- How important is that goal?

Plan your tasks so that you are doing things each day to further your long-term goals.


Limitless is weak. Learn to focus yourself with limits, and you'll increase your strength.

What would you like to simplify?
- time spent on phone
- number of projects
- number of blogs/news sources
- time spent surfing/reading online


Focus : absorbed in a mindful challenge.
Clear away distractions and focus completely on the task you set before yourself.

1. First thing in the morning, work on your Most Important Task. Don't do anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, then start on your next Most Important Task. If you can get 2-3 of these done in the morning, the rest of the day is gravy.
2. Turn off all other distractions.
3. If you feel the urge to check your email or switch to another task, stop yourself. Breathe. Refocus yourself. Get back to the task at hand.

- When you eat, just eat.
- Exercise is meditation.
- Daily routines can be meditation.



1. Select only one habit per month that will have the biggest impact on your life.
2. Write down your plan. Specifically state what your goal will be each day, when you'll do it, what your trigger will be ("right after waking"), and who you will report to
3. Post your goal publicly.
4. Report on your progress daily.

Choose an easy goal.
Choose something measurable.
Do it at the same time every day, if possible.



Choose a goal that will take 6-12 months to complete.
Break it down to focus on a smaller sub-goal that you can accomplish in the next month or two.
Create a weekly goal.
Each day, choose one action that will move you closer to your weekly goal. Make this action your most important task for the day. Do it first.


Choose just the top 3 projects on your list. This is your Simple Projects List.
Everything else goes on a 2nd list: the On-Deck List.
Don't move a project from the On-Deck List to the Simple Projects List until you finish all three projects on your Simple Projects List. Not just one, but all three.
Have at least one of your top 3 projects be related to your One Goal.

A project should take no more than a month to complete - preferably only a week or two.

Visualize what your project will look like when done.
Once a week, review your projects



Choose 3 Most Important Tasks each day. Do it first thing, each day.
Ensure that one Most Important Task is goal-related, or related to one of your top 3 projects.

Break things down into small tasks that can be accomplished in an hour or less, preferably 20-30 minutes.

Don't procrastinate, but just get started. One you start, you'll gain momentum and will have broken through the initial resistance barrier, and be much more likely to continue to the next small task, and the next one, until the large task is complete.



What do you do instead of keeping a schedule? Know your priorities. From moment to moment decide what you should be doing based on your priorities, how much time you have available, and your energy level.
Learn to be in the moment, focusing on one task at a time, immersing yourself completely in that task.
If you aren't finding yourself passionate about a certain task, allow yourself to move on to something you're more passionate about.
The more passionate you are about a task or project, the more energy you'll put into it, and the better you'll do with it.



Flow is when you lose yourself in a task, and the world around you disappears.

How to get into flow:
1. Choose a task you're passionate about.
2. Choose a task that's challenging, but not too challenging.
3. Eliminate distractions.
4. Immerse yourself. Just start, and focus completely. Forget about everything else, and let the world melt away.


Reduce before you organize.

Don't let smaller tasks take priority over your Most Important Tasks.

Do smaller tasks in batches.

Limit your in-boxes.

Don't check email in the morning.



Which sites are time-wasters for you? You spend a lot of time there, but they're not helping you get to your goals.

Consciously plan your use of the internet, instead of jumping on anytime and getting carried away without thinking.

Set limits and have a pupose.

Set blocks of your day for doing uninterrupted work (offline), for doing communication, for doing research, and for doing fun stuff.

Be more conscious.

When you think of something you want to do online, write it down to do it later.

Unplug your 'net connection so that you can't just reconnect with a couple clicks of the mouse.

Focus on breaking the addiction for at least one week. A month would be better. Make it your goal to break free of the internet.

Set rules for using the internet, and stick to them.

When you get an urge to go online, let it pass. Every urge is like a wave.

Apply positive public pressure. Ask others to encourage you to stay offline.

Use delay strategies. Deep breathing. Drinking water. Self-massage. Walking around.



Reduce the commitments in your life.

Viewed individually, none of them ever seems like too much work.

Take inventory of your current commitments. List everything: the more honest and complete your list, the better.

For each thing on the list:
- how does this give my life value?
- how important is it to me?
- does this further my life goals?

Make a short list of the commitments you choose.
("Here's mine: 1. Spending time with family, 2. Writing, 3. running, 4. Reading. That's my entire list.")

Leave space between tasks.
Slow down and enjoy every task.
Do nothing. Don't be afraid to be lazy sometimes.



With a well-planned morning routine:
- You can prepare for your day & set your goals
- You can get in exercise, reading, writing, or other things you don't normaly have time for.
- You can do something enjoyable, calming, and relaxing.

An evening routine can take as little as 10-30 minutes:
- Prepare for the next day
- Unwind from a long day
- Review your day
- Calm yourself before bed
- Spend quality time with loved ones
- Log, journal, write, exercise

How to establish routines:
1. Focus on them as your foremost goal for one month, focusing on nothing else.
2. Make them rewarding.
3. Log your progress.



Learn to focus your attention, to move it from one thing to the next more reluctantly, more slowly, at a more relaxed pace.
Pick a simple task. Keep your attention on it without switching.
Every time you switch your attention, take note of it.
Learn to stop yourself.
Practice this throughout the day, no matter what you're doing. Showering, eating, etc.



Use the first month to focus exclusively on forming the exercise habit.
Every month, set short-term goals for gradual improvements in exercise and diet plans.
Schedule your workout time. Find a time when you'll be able to exercise, when nothing will interfere. Do 5 workouts a week.
Don't allow yourself to miss a day.

No matter what your goal/project, never allow yourself to miss two days in a row.