For those of you who don't know, Leo Babauta is the creator of Zen Habits, a blog on simplicity, productivity and enjoying life named one of the top 25 blogs by Time magazine. He is also the writer of the Amazon best-seller book on productivity The Power of Less (affiliate link) and the un-copyrighted book Zen to Done (meaning you can find it for free somewhere else, this is an affiliate link for purchasing it). He has recently self-published a new book named Focus, which you can download for free (or buy with a nice set of additional content) from his website. I was fortunate enough to be one of his 'beta readers' and even got something added to it: using the emacs text editor as a distraction-free full screen editor.
Based on his idea of applying more focus to everything in life, I start a new category in this blog: the focused interview.
Focused interview: three questions, three answers. I'm very happy to begin this category with three questions for Leo. Here they go.
Q: You have been always preaching about simplicity in life: less clutter, less 'stuff', less tasks and commitments. Now you add a key ingredient: more focus. Given the outcomes that you've got from these, what would you pick if you could choose only one: more simplicity (without focus) or more focus (without simplicity)? Why?
Leo: I don't see them as two separate things. When I simplify and cut down on distractions, I find the focus I need to reflect and create. A lack of focus comes from complexity. But if for some reason I couldn't focus even if I found simplicity, I'd take that – I adore simplicity. Focus is just a nice by-product, but simplicity gives me so many other benefits – peace, clarity, the ability to do what's important to me, like spend time with my family.
Q: At 37 years old you are in the middle of the usual work life. What advice would you give 18 years old Leo? And what advice do you think 60 years old Leo would give you?
Leo: The 18-year-old Leo wouldn't listen to the 37-year-old me. I was too headstrong and thought I knew everything. Now I know that I know very little. But I would tell the 18-year-old Leo: slow down and enjoy life – it passes too quickly. I wouldn't warn him against making any of the mistakes he will soon make – wonderful things came out of those mistakes. As for the 60-year-old Leo, I have no idea what advice he'd give me – but I'd like to know a few things: what stocks should I buy, do cellphones or laptops cause cancer, and are there finally flying cars in the future?
Q: How has your minimalism and productivity ideas shaped your family life? Do your wife and children follow through? Are your kids using or starting to use your ideas?
Leo: I do minimalism so I can enjoy time with my family. I don't try to impose any of it on them, though I do hope to set an example they might find useful. My wife, for example, has become quite a minimalist, through no urging from me. I think we inspire each other. My kids are anything but minimalists, but I love them the way they are – they're perfect.
Thanks to Leo for this first interview, and stay tuned for the ones that will come.
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