“There has never before been an age in which we could get so much done so quickly. There has never been an age in which we were so overwhelmed with information and tasks, so overloaded with emails and things to read and watch, so stressed by the incredible demands of our lives.”
Isn’t that the truth?
The Power of Less sums up one of the greatest obstacles keeping us from living our best lives in it’s very first paragraph: we’re overwhelmed.
Post written by the fierce Casey Wilson, Book Club member
Thanks to the internet, we have an open line of communication feeding us news, emails, pictures, videos, updates and calls to action 24 hours a day, every single day. On top of that, we have jobs to go to, families to tend to, bills to pay, groceries to get, laundry to fold, people to see, errands to run, and the list goes on.
If you’re like me, most days my brain switches to autopilot the moment I feel caffeinated enough to function!
From there my day-to-day approach basically consists of doing what I need to do until it’s done. Aka: adulting. Then with the remaining time I get to work on my own goals and projects. The thing is, by the time I finish adulting I’m too exhausted to work on my goals and projects. And I’m not talking about the kind of exhausted a nap will cure.
The kind of exhausted where your brain just can’t deal. The kind where if I have to have another human interaction or do anything other than watch Netflix under a heap of blankets with my dog, I might quite literally turn to stone. Or cry a little bit. Whichever happens first.
Needless to say, I was intrigued by The Power of Less and what it could offer me.
Could it actually teach me how to do less, simplify my life and achieve my goals?
Get rid of the unessential to find what really matters
About halfway into the book, I can already say this is a worthwhile read for anyone trying to thrive in the 21st century. It’s not the kind of personal development book that offers theoretical insights to inspire you into action. Rather, this book is straightforward and to the point. The concept of ‘The Power of Less’ is concretely laid out for you in the introduction with easy to follow and practical tips on how to apply it to your life in the chapters that follow. While the book is based on a set of 6 principles, it boils down to identifying what’s essential in your life then eliminating the rest. The idea is that once you get rid of the un-essential (the clutter), you become less stressed, focused, and more productive in the areas of your life that matter most to you.
My biggest takeaway so far
In the chapter of setting limits, Leo Babauata says,
“Our time and space is limited, and having too much of everything is like trying to cram a library into a single box: it can’t be done, it’s hard to enjoy the books, and sooner or later the box will break.”
Having personally experienced an intimate relationship with adrenal fatigue and burnout a few years back, this description hit home for me and helped me better understand how my past and current habits contribute to my exhaustion. Leo explains that by not setting limits, we dilute our power and tire ourselves out so we we no longer have the energy to handle the important stuff. Hello…relatable!
Living a limitless life, while fun and liberating at first, actually weakens us in the end because we lose focus of what’s actually important. Being a recovering overachiever and people-pleaser myself, Leo helped me understand that my willingness to take on everything and help everyone not only leads to serious regret and overwhelm later, but also depletes the value both myself and others place on my time and priorities. I had never previously considered my time or priorities as something of value to others or how “limitless” I’ve been living my life.
Learning how to set firm limitations on the things I do has truly opened my eyes to how much of my precious energy I was freely giving away in an effort to help others. I’m getting better at prioritizing more of my energy towards my “essentials”, instead of giving my essentials whatever is left of me at the end of the day. Who knew setting limits could feel so liberating?!
A tip I’m using
One other tip Leo offers that’s made a tremendous difference for me is to simply keep a notebook or post-it next to me whenever I’m working. That way, whenever I get a random thought or idea (like “add peanut butter to the grocery list”, or “I need to schedule an appointment at the groomers for my dogs”, or “I wonder what borborygmus means”) I can write it down and get to it when I’m finished with my work.
This tip has been a huge time saver for me as I’ve been able zero in on the task at hand and get it done from start to finish rather than in increments throughout the day.
By the way, in case you were dying to know…borborygmus means a rumbling or gurgling noise in the intestines. Fun fact of the day!
Summing the halfway point up
The Power of Less is about setting limitations rather than achieving volume. Given that the majority of us approach life with a “more is better” mindset, this book delivers a refreshing realization that more totally sucks.
By focusing on less we can make a bigger impact and eliminate a lot of our day-to-day stress.
Consistently checking in with ourselves to ensure we’re focusing on the essentials allows us to do what we truly need to do to live our best life. And who doesn’t want to live their best life?