Leo Babauta is the author of the Book “The Power of Less” and the creator and blogger at Zen Habits, a Top 100 blog with 125,000 subscribers — one of the top productivity and simplicity blogs on the Internet.
Babauta is one of the leading experts on productivity and simplicity, and has also written the top-selling productivity e-book in history: Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System. It has sold thousands of copies and has reached tens of thousands of readers.
Babauta is a former journalist and freelance writer over 18 years, a husband and father of six children, and lives on the island of Guam where he leads a very simple life.
Its a great opportunity to interview him. So here we go:
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Leo: Hi everyone! Nice to be here. I’m Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net, a blog about simplicity and productivity with more than 125,000 readers … I’m also the author of The Power of Less, a best-selling print book about how to simplify and focus on the essential. I’m married and the father of six kids, a runner and a vegan, living a simple life on Guam.
How do you feel when lot of people recognize you these days as one of the most successful people? How was life just some years back, when you were in your day job? How do you feel and manage this “recognition” that you have earned?
Leo: It’s a bit strange, as I just feel like the same old Leo, not anything different, but there’s no doubt that people treat me differently. Still, my wife and kids and friends and other family still treat me the same — and if I start to brag a little, they will make fun of me, which reminds me not to get a big head. 🙂 Life is different now than when I had a day job, of course — it’s amazing being your own boss, being able to set your own hours and have all the freedom in the world. I love it. I recommend it for everyone!
What do you think of Twitter? Many people use it as marketing tool and someothers for timepass. How and why do you use Twitter?
Leo: I think Twitter is an amazing communication tool. I didn’t get it when I first used it. But I’ve found that just like with any communication tool — the phone, email, blogs, etc. — it can be used in an infinite number of ways. You can use it to stay in touch with friends, network with colleagues, follow celebrities, get information and news, market your product or website, anything. Today, I mostly use it as a way to connect with my readers. I share useful links and info with them, share a peek into my personal life, ask them questions, respond to questions, share inspirational or thought-provoking quotes or thoughts, and of course keep them updated by linking to my latest post. I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for staying connected with my audience — I’m glad to spend 20 minutes a day or so using it. Also, I find a lot of useful links and info on Twitter.
How much time do you spend online?
Leo: More than I’d like to admit! I usually start by writing a post in the morning, and write other content later (like for my next book), and check email and Twitter and do some online reading. Sometimes I’ll get so absorbed in online reading, if I’m really getting into a topic, that I’ll spend 8 hours online altogether. But other days I might only be on for 4-6 hours — that’s my entire job, really.
I am a student and want your advice for my academics. How do you think we can apply “The Power of LESS” to our studies. Sometimes the assignments and the work load are heavy and we must multitask.
Leo: Pick the most important assignments and focus on them first. Put away all distractions — especially your online connection — and really focus on getting the task done, not on multitasking. Repeat with the next most important task, and so on. Limit your time to connect — perhaps 2-3 times a day, for 30-60 minutes, or something like that, so that you have time to focus.
I don’t have pets in my home. But I love them. After reading your book, I feel that I must do things that I love to do. But having a pet comes with commitments. I am already fixed in lot of commitments. What do you think I must choose … the thing that I love or stick on to my present commitments? Do you own a pet ?
Leo: I’m not much of a pet guy myself — kids are commitment enough for me! But if I were you, I’d simplify my current commitments first, and see if you can lead a simpler life, before adding another big commitment like a pet. Also think about what emotional need a pet is fulfilling — why do you need a pet to be happy? If you’ve simplified your commitments and have really thought about your emotional needs and how to be more content with life, I think you should pursue the things you truly love, whether that be owning a pet or creating something amazing or whatever makes you happy.
Tell us about the financial freedom that you are enjoying with your online ventures. And how was life when you had a day job.
Leo: Well, I’m not rich, but there’s no doubt I have much more financial freedom now than when I was receiving a paycheck. I couldn’t have imagined it back then, when I had a job — to me, there was nothing like the financial security of having a paycheck and a retirement plan, because I had a family to feed. But these days, I’ve learned that I can make more than I could with a day job, and have much, much more fun doing it. I highly recommend it to anyone — pursue your passion and your dreams, and see what comes of it.
Blogs that you recommend. Your recommendation for bloggers.
Leo: There are way too many to recommend — for every blog I name I would be leaving out 10. For blogs on changing your life, check out the Life Remix network of blogs (liferemix.net) — it has as great a collection of blogs as any out there. For blogs on blogging, I would recommend Problogger and Copyblogger and of course WriteToDone.com. Fitness blogs I’m into include Fitness Black Book, Mark’s Daily Apple, Zen to Fitness, and many more. Of course, Lifehacker is indispensable, and I love Seth Godin and Daring Fireball and Alex Payne. I could go on and on!
Books that you recommend.
Leo: Again, too many to name! I’m a huge book lover — my favorite fiction includes Vonnegut, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Ann Patchett, Douglas Adams, Jonathan Lethem, William Gibson, so many more. Non-fiction includes: Slow Down to the Speed of Life, anything by Thich Naht Hanh, The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, Walden by Thoreau, the Life of Gandhi, Your Money or Your Life, Stephen Covey, simplifying books by Elaine St. James, and many many more.
Some words for all your fans and followers.
Leo: Just thank you. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who reads Zen Habits, who has commented or send kind emails of encouragement. It really means a lot, and honestly, I wouldn’t be living my dream if it weren’t for all of you. So again, thank you, for everything.
Thanks a lot to Leo Babauta for this interview. The Power of LESS has been extremely helpful for me. If you have not yet read the book, here is the link to get it – “The Power Of LESS“. Note for readers: As Leo Babauta is a “A” list blogger, you can find his interviews on many blogs and even main stream media. So I wanted to make sure to ask only those questions that were not asked before. Hope you all enjoyed.