Episode 152: The Zen of Living Less to Have More with Leo Babauta of ZenHabits

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GreenTalk Radio host Sean Daily talks about achieving personal productivity and a simpler and happier life with Leo Babauta, founder and lead blogger at ZenHabits.net.

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This program is brought to you by Personal Life Media dot com

Sean Daily:  Hey everybody this is Sean Daily, host of Green Talk Radio.  If you haven’t already I want to encourage you to subscribe to GreenLivingIdeas.com’s Green Ideas monthly newsletter.  Every issue of the newsletter is packed full of tips and information to help you live a more greener more sustainable life, including topics like, renewable energy, alternative fuel vehicles and transportation, simple living, natural foods and health, eco fashion, and seasonal and holidays tips.  Signing up for the newsletter is quick and easy and only takes a few seconds.  Just visit GreenLivingIdeas.com/newsletter.

Sean Daily:  Hi, and welcome to Green Talk, a podcast series from GreenLivingIdeas.com.  Green Talk helps listeners in their efforts to lead more eco friendly lifestyles through interviews with top venders, authors and experts from around the world.  We discuss the critical issues facing the global environment today, as well as the technologies, products and practices that you can employ to go greener in every area of your life.

Sean Daily:  Hey everyone, welcome to Green Talk Radio, this is Sean Daily.  Very excited about today’s program.  I have with me somebody that I think many of you will know. But first I’m going to start with an interdiction to the program before I go there.  With the hustle and bustle of today’s world, and the demands on most of us at home and at work, the idea of being more productive and getting things done in a more efficient manner has become a popular subject of many books, blogs, and TV shows.  Some people call it life-hacking.  For example, author David Allen is getting things done or GTD series of books, has become the basis for a near cult like following for many in the business world.  And a new TV show that recently started to called Trial By Fire, with Tim Ferris, who is the author of The Four Hour Work Week, has become very popular.  My guest today is Leo Babauta.  He’s one of the followers of the internet based side of the personal productivity movement.  He’s the lead blogger and founder of ZenHabits.net, a blog that has over 80,000 regular readers, putting it in the upper Echlin of personal weblogs.  Now Leo isn’t your typical blogger, not your typical productivity guru, despite being one of the top bloggers on the internet, he remains ever-humble about his status as an internet blogging legend.  When we asked him for a bio, he told us that he really had no formal qualifications, he says he’s just a regular guy, a father of six, a husband, a worker, and a free lance writer and blogger.  But he says he’s accomplished a lot over the last year, failed a lot of times and along the way has learned quite a bit.  His past accomplishments, which he regularly shares with his Zen Habits readership, have included quitting smoking, becoming a marathon runner and triathlete, becoming more organized, eating healthier via the vegetarian diet, doubling his income, writing a novel, getting control of his finances, eliminating all of his debt, and creating a generally a simpler and happier life for himself.  So Leo, with that, I want to welcome you to Green Talk Radio

Leo Babauta: Well, thanks Sean. Thanks for having me on here.

Sean Daily:  Well, it’s my pleasure.  And I’ve been a big fan of your blog and reader for quite some time.  And it’s very inspiring.  I study martial arts, and though Im not a student of Zen, there is a lot of Zen influence in the style of marital arts I study and I have a real appreciation for it.  And I love the way that you’ve really infused the ideas of Zen in simple living with personal productivity.  Um, so, first I just want to applaud you for your success and congratulate you there with everything that you’ve done.

Leo Babauta: Yea, So, I have definitely been thrilled with, uh, my success.  I mean, basically, because I have such a highly encouraging readership and it’s just been a joy to write for Zen Habits and share things with people, and have this kind of, you know, really supportive community there and it’s just a lot of fun.

Sean Daily:  It’s one of those blogs where you’ll read the comments and get as much from the comments as you do from the blog commentary and that does say a lot about your readership as well.

Leo Babauta:  Oh, yeah. Well I learn more from them than they do from me.  They don’t know that.

(Laughter)

Sean Daily:  Well, that’s how any good website or blog is. Well, tell us the story of how did Zen Habits start? Why did you start it?

Leo Babauta:  Well, Um, I started in January 2007.  The year previous to that, I had been undergoing a series of transformations in my life.  And like you mentioned, I went through a change of a number of habits starting with quitting smoking.  And, um, that was the breakthrough for me, because I had failed my quitting smoking for a number of times.  Maybe seven times I have failed. And the last time I did it, I learned a lot about changing habits and I was successful, and I used those principles that I used to change that habit to change other habits, one at a time. And it was just amazing to me how I could, you know, continue to change habits, things that I had tried for years to do.  Um, you know, now with these principles, I was able to do it.  And so, I was a blog reader.  I read things like LifeHacker.com and I read slowly for like personal finances. And so I thought, maybe I should try this and share what I have learned, um, and what I am still learning with other people and see if, you know, if their interested in it, maybe I’ll get started a conversation about this stuff. And so I did. I started Zen Habits, um, and quickly, it really took off.   There was a lot of people who were really enthusiastic about the things that I was sharing. And, um, it became, within a matter of months really, one of the top blogs that my personally productivity nitch. So, yah, it’s been great.

Sean Daily:  Now, tell us some of the tidbits of the secrets, or nuggets of wisdom that helped you overcome the quitting smoking when you had had so many challenges in the past.

Leo Babauta:  Well, Um, I wouldn’t say they’re secrets. They’re things that have been around for years. But I was just able to put together.  I tried a whole bunch of different strategies and I figured out which ones worked. And so I was able to put together just a series of things that really worked. One thing is, first of all, you just focus on one thing. And so, I focused my energies completely on quitting smoking. And I had other things that were going on, but I said, you know what, I’m going to put all that aside and really focus on the changing this one habit. And try to do it for at least thirty days. You know, even if it’s tough, and I have all these urges and I feel like quitting quitting, I was going to stick with it for thirty days. And see if I could curb that habit. So that was one thing, really focusing your energy on one thing.  Um, another thing is having the motivation.  I knew I was doing it for my wife and children. I promised them that I would quit smoking, and so I did it. I went on an online forum and had that support from other people that were doing the same thing and so that motivated me. I learned about triggers for your habits.  Every habit that you have is triggered by something. For smoking there’s a number of triggers.  But any habit, there’s a trigger. Whether it’s a negative habit or a positive one. And so you figure out what those triggers are and you replace the negative habit with a positive habit for those triggers. For example, when I wake up in the morning, I used to smoke, and now I run. For that trigger, waking up in the morning, instead of going and smoking for the first thing in the morning, I would go out and do my run. And I still do that, most of the time,. So, um, replacing those negative habits with positive habits for those triggers is really important. There’s some other things that I share on Zen Habits and also a book that I have coming out on December 30th, which is called The Power of Less talks a lot about changing habits

Sean Daily:  Very Cool. That’s fascinating. A lot of people don’t also realize that you are not actually in the main land, the US, or even in Hawaii. I think some people think that you are actually on the island of Guam. Is that correct?

Leo Babauta:  That’s right. I live with 160,000 people. It’s very tropical here. We’re a U.S. territory, so we have all the, and we pretty much have an American lifestyle here in the tropics, so it’s pretty cool. It’s a lot like Hawaii actually, but it’s on a smaller scale. And so for me, I have all the conveniences of modern technology. I have broadband internet and an air conditioned houses and all that stuff. But, at the same time, Guam has a lot of the traditional islander lifestyles. Pretty laid back and simplified, it’s kind of, my life’s kind of a mixture of those two things, so I really like living here in Guam.

Sean Daily:  Now, do you feel that the principles and that pace of life that you’re living around is what drives those principles? Is it possible for people living in the hustle bustle of whether it’s mainland U.S., or Europe, or anywhere else for that matter to be able to achieve these things, or is that a futile attempt.

Leo Babauta:  Oh, no. Definitely..Well, first of all, I mean, just living here in Guam doesn’t make you live a slower paced lifestyle.  There’s…Um..And most of the people here are, you know, they have full, you know, 8-5 jobs, and so they’re, um, they have just as hectic lifestyle as people living in bigger cities.  I mean, we have maybe more of a rural, um, setting, but the actual work places are just the same as anywhere else. Um, they work for corporations, and government, and military, and all that so, it’s all here. So, for me, I had a government job. And the at the same time I was freelancing as a journalist while I was doing these things, so I learned how to really focus and simplify, and live a slower lifestyle within the context of having basically two jobs, and raising six children. And so, I think anyone can do it.  If I can do it, I think anyone can.  I know so jobs are more difficult than others in terms of, you know, what you can control, but basically, for me, it’s just making the decision to make time for what’s really important to you. And that’s the starting point. From then on, you can start to simplify your life, no matter what your lifestyle is.

Sean Daily:  And how do people shut out..and I know this kind of relates to the monkey mind, where there’s all these things going on, and you’re distracted. Whether it’s external or you’re just struggling internally with the millions things that, for example, that you need to get done. And just slowing the world down, doing one thing at a time. Is it really..Um, is that really part of the secret here? Is just sort of, shutting that monkey mind off and being able to have the discipline to just focus on, as you said earlier, one thing at a time?

Leo Babauta:  Well, Um, I don’t really believe in discipline, actually.

(Laughter)

Sean Daily:  Really?

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, people kind of say, “Oh, you’re so disciplined, I wish I could be as disciplined as you.” And I think that’s a little bit of a myth, because a lot of times people say, “Oh, I don’t have discipline, so I can’t do this, and I don’t have the discipline to shut out everything, and just clear away all the distractions and not have all these thoughts going on in my head.”  You know, no one has that discipline.  Except for maybe, you know, Zen masters who’ve been practicing it for years. So, instead of discipline, what I look at is changing habits and finding motivation for doing that. And so, I’ve change my habits related to what you’re asking about, but I don’t feel that I am especially disciplined, you know, more than anyone else. And I don’t think that you have to be. I think, basically, what you want to do is, like I said, start with the essentials. Figure out what’s really important to you and what you want most in your life, what you’re passionate about, who you love, and make time for that. And that means, simplifying your schedule usually. Meaning, figure out what’s the essentials and eliminating the non essentials. And that takes..that’s not easy, you don’t do that over night.  But once you start to make room in your life for what’s important, make room in your life for spending time alone as well, and having that, you know, peaceful quiet time, you start to have less of that business in your head.  And focusing on one thing at a time, that also is a habit, and something that you can learn over time with practice. It’s not going to happen right away, by shutting out all your thoughts because no one can do that. But if you practice…Lets say I’m going to write a report right now, and I shut off my email, celar away my browser, maybe clear off my desk of all the clutter so I don’t have that distraction.  And maybe shut the door, or put on some head phones so I don’t hear anybody around me. And so that way, you clear away the distractions, and you just try and focus on writing that report for as long as possible, and at first, it’s hard, because you want to  go check your email, you want to  go research something online and that’ll lead to three hours of reading online.

(laughter)

Sean Daily:   Guilty as charged!

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, well, all of us are, I think. And I’m no exception. But I mean, it’s hard at first, but, you know, with practice you start to learn that you can actually focus on something for a long period of time.  And once you learn to do that, you kind of lose yourself in that task. And it’s something that psychologists call “flow”.  And once you get into that state of flow, where you just kind of lose track of the world around you, the world just kind of melts away, you lose track of time, and you’re just totally immersed in this task. I mean, it’s one of the greatest things that you can do in terms of making yourself happier, less stressed out,  and more productive. And so that’s something that isn’t going to happen right away, but it comes with practice and I think it’s really great

Sean Daily:   Now isn’t the..I’m curious about..this isn’t a specific question but, isn’t the internet, by nature, sort of conducive to that kind of distraction, hyper linking off to, you know, one article, and then another, and then that brings you down this other rabbit hole?  How do people, and especially people that are writing or researching on the internet avoid that, where it’s a necessary evil

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, I  know that, I mean, it’s a necessary evil. It’s also the brilliance of the internet and the curse of it at the same time. I mean, there’s nothing greater than, I think, than being able to find out about anything you want at any second, so I mean, just the experience of browsing, I think, is something that’s wonderful, but you know, like you said, it’s um, it’s a whole world of distractions out there. And so, yeah, I mean, while I let myself browse and get distracted all the time, when I need to focus, I try and shut everything down.  I close my browser, or at least close all the extra tabs on there, so I just have the one tab that I..Let’s say I’m writing a post for Zen Habits, I close everything else down, I turn off my email notification and IM, Instant Messaging, and if you let yourself, internet can be very distracting and a lot of times, I actually disconnect, or at least just quit the browser and open a text file and just write there, or whatever it is that you normally work with. A lot of times you don’t need the internet to do that. I think you kind of have to firewall the time you want to spend working on a task. There’s time for internet, and there’s time for working on this task. And you can’t do both at the same time. So that’s basically my strategy.

Sean Daily:   Well, I think that’s a good one. And I’m going to have to be more sympathetic with my editors, too, because I know one of them is a reader and devotee of your blog.  She disappears for entire days at a time when she’s working. So, I had you to blame for her non-presence on IM, so I understand her better now. So I appreciate that explanation.  So we’re going to take a quick break here, and we’ll be right back.  My guest today is Leo Babauta.  He’s a simple living and productivity guru, and lead blogger and founder of the popular blog, Zen Habits, found online at zenhabits.net. And we’ll be right back on Green Talk Radio.

(Commercial Break)

Sean Daily:   Hey everyone. We’re back on Green Talk Radio, this is Sean Daily talking today with blogger Leo Babauta.  He’s a  simple living and productivity guru, author, and lead blogger for the popular blog, Zen Habits, found online at zenhabits.net. Leo, we were talking before the break about the history and the story of Zen Habits and how you’ve been, um, contributing to the personal productivity community through helping people live more simply, and learn to be happier with living with less.  I wanted to switch gears a little bit, talk specifically about consumerism, and I know that’s been a subject of some of the editorial on your site.  What do you see being, or do you see there being problems with consumerism in mass consumption?

Leo Babauta:  Well, I mean, personally...First of all, I’m guilty of it just as much as anyone else, so I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching to people. But, I see it in my own life and I see it in the lives of others.  Where we get caught up in consumerism in mass consumption and the idea that we want more all the time.  We see an ad for something and we want to go and buy it right away.  Or we fill out house with possessions and it ends up being clutter that we don’t use and doesn’t make us happy.  I realized a while ago that it’s not like you can change your  lifestyle right away. So, I tried to start and change things one step at a time, and basically figure out what really makes me happy.  And it turns out, at least for me, that the most important things, the things that make me most happy are free. I think that’s been a little bit clichéd.

Sean Daily:   Can you give us some examples of that?

Leo Babauta:  Well, Okay. One thing I always tell people when they want to simplify their lifestyle, is make a short list of four to five things that are most important to you, the essential list. And so, for me, it’s very simple. The four things that are most important to me that I want to fill my life with are: Number 1-Spending time with my family, Number 2-Writing, that’s what I’m really passionate about, Number 3-Reading, which is just something I really enjoy doing, and Number 4-Um, running. So, spending time with my family, writing, reading, and running. And that’s my short list. None, almost none of those things cost, you know, anything. And they all make me very happy. You know, if my day is filled with just those four things, I’ve had a great day. And I don’t need to buy stuff to do that. So what I’ve learned is that you can buy things all the time, and I have, and spend a lot of money and probably get into a lot of debt, but it doesn’t necessarily make you happier. And so, if you focus on what’s truly important, and learn that it doesn’t cost money to be happy, you can get out of that cycle of consumerism, and debt, and I personally was in a lot of debt and it took me a few years, but as of, I think, January this year, 2008 I was able to finally get out of debt.  And it was a liberating feeling. And I think, you know, too many of us are caught up in that dead-end and it turns into something that is a burden and pressure on us. And, it’s hard to be happy when you have that kind of debt hanging over your head. And so, freeing myself of that debt, getting out of that cycle of spending and getting into debt, and working more to pay for that debt. It wasn’t something that I wanted, and I suggest others to try to get out of that cycle, to get out of debt, stop spending so much and focus on what’s really important

Sean Daily:   And make your list of what’s really important.

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, I call it the Short List, or your list of essentials.  It’s really what you’re passionate about. What you love. And it can be people, it could be work that you love, a hobby, a past time, anything.  And, that’s what you want  to fill your life with. And the rest of the stuff is, what I call, non-essential. You know, and you can try and slowly eliminate as much of that as you possibly can. You can’t eliminate all the non-essential stuff because you still got to pay bills, and stuff like that.  But if you can make room in your life for the essential things, you’ve created, probably, a lifestyle that you want. So that’s what I’ve done, and a lot of other people have done it too. I think it’s a recipe for happiness and success.

Sean Daily:   Now, switching gears a little bit to talk about the environmental aspects of this philosophy of living.  How would you say that living with less and simplifying you life can be helpful in an environmental sense.

Leo Babauta:  Well, you first have to look at the effects of mass consumerism on the environment.  We buy so much stuff. There’s a cost to that environmentally. And we all know that. There’s manufacturing, shipping, retail. It all has costs in terms of energy, pollution, use of natural resources, and its unsustainable, the level that we consume goods. I mean, at a global level, you can’t sustain that level of consumption because there’s not enough resources  on earth. And, I think people are becoming more aware of that in the last couple of years. People realize, we just can’t sustain this and we have to cut back a little less, maybe use less gas and you know I think people are becoming more aware of the effects of our lifestyles on the planet. And so, people want to change, they just aren’t always sure how to do that or maybe their feeling is that it’s too hard. My experience, you know, you can cut back, and that’s, to me…if everyone did that, it everyone cut back a little bit, and spent less, bought less, and consumed less, that would be a more sustainable economy, both locally and globally. I think just the act of reducing how much you consume is a big step towards a more sustainable, global lifestyle.

Sean Daily:   Now, Leo, I understand that you helped start “Blog Action Day”, which was a day where bloggers got together based on cause, cause of the environment on October 15th 2007, and then there was another one this year as well, and our GreenLivingIdeas.com, my site, and many other blogs participated in that.  Can you tell us the story about that?

Leo Babauta:  Well, first of all, I don’t want to take full credit for it.  It was actually the brain child and baby of a friend of mine named [Caulus Tyied] (sp?), and he’s a blogger out of Australia who, him and his wife actually, [Sian Tyied (sp?)], the two of them started up Freelance Switch, which if you’re freelancer, you’re probably familiar with that as well as a bunch of other pretty cool sites.  And [Caulus] had the idea of “Blog Action Day”, which is one day a year, which was October 15th, to try and get as many bloggers as possible to talk about one topic.  And the first year, which was 2007, the topic was the environment. And so, we, the two of us along with some other people who were helping out, set out to get as many bloggers as possible to agree to sign up and talk about, or post about that topic for that one day. And so, we’re actually pretty successful.  I think there’s more than 20,000 bloggers who signed up for that, for 2007. Yeah, 20,000 people, bloggers, reaching probably 20 million readers.

Sean Daily:   Fantastic.

Leo Babauta:  And so our idea was, you change the conversation for one day, and changing that conversation gets people talking about it, gets them thinking about it. And once you start changing the conversation, you start changing the way people think.  And when you change the way people think, you change their actions. And that, to me, is really powerful. And maybe, it was one day of talking and then everyone forgets about it, but I think it sent an important message out that a lot of people do care about this.  And it got people thinking about it. There were lots of great posts about solutions and about things that people could do. And it was, to me, it was a really energizing and a fantastic event and I was glad to be a part of it. [Caulus] contacted me so I’m kind of a co-founder. I helped sign a lot of people up, but like I said, I think he deserves a lot of credit for creating it. It was great.  This year we talked about poverty. And so next year there’s going to be another topic. But, I think it’s all related. Poverty, and the environment are both very interrelated. So, it’s great to get so many people talking about this, and show that there’s a lot of interest in this.

Sean Daily:   Now, Leo, I want to hit you up for some tips here. This is one of the things that I always offer guests an opportunity to do, is to share tips with listeners.  And specifically, I had two areas I wanted to ask you about tips for. One was living with less.  What are the tips you have for people that are saying, “I want to live a simpler lifestyle, where can I start?”

Leo Babauta:  Well, as I mentioned, the place to start is the short list of four to five things that are essential to your life.  And then, start to create room for those important things by eliminating other things.  That’s the simplified version. But there’s a lot of things you can do.  Evaluate your commitments, what do you have going on in your life?  Not only with work, but your home, your civic commitments, maybe you’re part of different groups, or maybe you have kids’ activities or your own hobbies, or side businesses, or other projects.  All those things are all commitments.  Anything that you say yes to that’s on your schedule is a commitment.  And so, are they in line with your short list, your four to five important things? And if not, try to slowly drop those commitments and make more room in your life, because I’ve experience, and most people have, where you over commit yourself.  You don’t realize you’re doing it because you just say yes to one thing.  But, pretty soon, you’re, you know, your schedule is over-packed, and you don’t have time for anything.

Sean Daily:   I would be the Poster Child for that problem.

(Laughter)

Leo Babauta:  I think we all are.  It just happens. It’s just like, how you fill your house up with possessions. You don’t go out and buy them all in one day, but, eventually with one thing at a time, “I need that”, or “Yes, I’ll take that.” And eventually, your house is full of stuff and you don’t realize how it got that way, and you don’t know how to change it. It’s the same thing with your life.  It becomes full of stuff, and it’s just one little thing at a time, like “Yes, I’ll go to that party,” or, “Yes, I’ll be on that committee”, “Yes, I’ll take on this volunteer project”, um,”Yes, I’ll go to your thing”, but in the end of a day, you don’t.. you said yes to too many things, and you didn’t realize it. So it takes…Just like you filled up your life with commitments, it takes time to get out of them.  And you have to learn how to say no, and basically be willing to disappoint people sometimes.  But, you say, “I’m sorry, I have too much going on in my life, and I need to back out of this, and I apologize for that, but I can’t commit to this right now.”  Other things are simplify your to-do list.  Look at your list of stuff to do and say, “You know what, I can’t get all this done, I’ll never get all of that done, so what can I get done. What do I really want to get done?” And so, each day, what I do, and what I suggest other people do is look at your to-do list and figure out what are the top three things that you want to get done today? If you only did three things, if you only did these three things, would you be happy with your accomplishment.  And what are the top three things that are going to make the most impact on your life, your career, your business and focus on those three things.  That’s your short list for the day.  If yo focus on those three things first, before you get into email, and other distractions, and get those three things done, you’ve had a great day.  And you might get them done in the first few hours, and then you can make another short list if you want to.  Or, go home and take a nap.

Sean Daily:   What do you think it is that keeps us from that? DO you think it’s this eternal superhero complex that we might have that we’re going to do more that we don’t want to put that down. Or, you know, what keeps people from doing that? IS it that they don’t want to admit that they’re not going to get everything done that they might imagine and some sort of wild fantasy in their mind?

Leo Babauta:  It’s not necessarily a wild fantasy.  I think, I mean, it is definitely like you said, hard to admit that we can’t do everything. But I think also in our minds we tend to overestimate how much we can do and underestimate how much time things take.  And I think we all do that, and basically, you say, “You know, I’ll do this today, this, this, this, and this..” and you have ten things on your list, but if you really look at what you’ve done each day, rarely do you get those ten things done. And what that turns into is you take those things and you push them out back on your calendar, or continue over into your next to-do list.  And you feel guilty about it because you didn’t get all your stuff done. So that, I think is, first of all, trying to take on too much, and it ends up being ineffective and stressful.  And also, the cycle of guilt of not getting it all done is not very good for you. So, what I suggest, is, again, simplify your list. Focus on just a few things.  If you can get those three things done, and you want to do more, great.  But if you only end up doing those three things, then at least you’re happy with your accomplishments. And again... start…Out of those three things, start with the most important thing, and maybe it’s the thing you’ve been putting off, that you’ve been procrastinating on, or dreading doing.  But if you get that thing done first, then the rest of the stuff is easy.  There’s a lot of other tips, actually.  If you go to Zen Habits and click on the category “Simplify”, I have a ton of articles on it.  One article has 72 ideas, anything from learning how to say “no”, to limiting your consumption of media, including TV, radio, internet, magazines.  I’m not saying eliminate it, because obviously Green Talk Radio is great.

Sean Daily:   You’ve got to step away every once and a while.

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, just figure out what you really love watching, or consuming, and just focusing on that, and trying to cut back a little bit.  Sometimes I go on a media fast, where I don’t watch TV or read anything for a week. And for me, actually, I get a lot more done. And life is a lot better for me during that week.  But, usually I go back to my old habits after that.  It does teach you that you don’t really need al of that stuff every single day.  And so, you can limit.  I like to purge my stuff, and de-clutter my house, and my desk at my work. So that I have a really uncluttered household.  I’m a very big fan of minimalism, and so, in my house you never see anything on the floor besides the furniture.  I don’t have anything on the countertops.  And so, I really like that look of not a lot of stuff. A really uncluttered look.  I regularly go and purge everything that I have.

Sean Daily:   I have to ask you a question since I know you’re a father of six.  How do you get your family to cooperate with that? Because that’s my challenge, I’m just like you, I don’t want it, but the kitchen island, just after four hours after being cleaned is completely covered.  How do you deal with that?

Leo Babauta:  A lot of coercion …

Sean Daily:   Bribes?

Leo Babauta:  First of all, I’m really lucky that my wife is on board with un-cluttering, de-cluttering everything.  She’s like me, where we really like an un-cluttered lifestyle. And, of course, our kids are not like that, so there’s a little bit of a struggle there. But, we’ve learned some things.  First of all, we have, um, they have their clutter, and we have, we let that be in their room, so it’s out of site.  But in the living room, you know, we don’t, and the kitchen, we don’t really allow as much of that.  Although, you know, you have kids and they’re going to have some of that, so you have to learn to pick your battles.  But at the same time, we’ve, we try to teach our kids the values that you can only play with so many toys.  You only need so much stuff.  After that, it’s just a bunch of junk that you have to dig through to find the stuff that you want to play with.  And so, we’ve been kind of teaching that a little bit from the time they were young, or at least for the last few years.  Some of them are older, so it’s harder to change their habits. But we go through, like now, it’s Christmas time, and we know they’re going to get a bunch of gifts, not only from us, but family and friends. And so, we like to go through their stuff and make room for the stuff that’s going to be coming in.  And stuff they don’t play with. And actually they’re happy because we go down as a family and donate that to charity.  And they realize that that stuff that they don’t use is going to be used by people who probably want it more and benefit good causes. So, that’s something to kind of teach your kids over time and it’s not something they’re going to learn over night, and kind of do it slowly in manageable chunks. But they realize that they really don’t play with all of that stuff, and so, it’s not really that difficult to get rid of stuff. Yeah, again, you’ve got to choose your battles and sometimes you have to kind of ease up a little bit on your OCD or whatever it is that you might have.

Sean Daily:   Take a deep breath and relax. In my side, I’m going to have my family listen to this podcast after it’s done being recorded. Hopefully I’ll get some support that way. Because, hey, Leo said this, so you can do it. Well, Leo, listen. Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on the program today, sincerely. And, really inspiring.

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, no. Thank you for having me.  It’s an honor to be on the show.  And, I’ve enjoyed the conversation. So, I hope people, uh, do check it out, and go to ZenHabits.net. Um, and I do have a book coming out, again, at the end of the month, December 30th.  It’s called The Power of Less. And, um, if you go to Zen Habits, I’ll be sure to announce it there. And, I think that everyone will enjoy it.

Sean Daily:   Great. And I highly recommend subscribing to Leo’s newsletter because I know of what I speak. I’ve been a subscriber for some time. You’ll get a lot of value out of it. Leo, would that book also be available on Amazon, and typical on online booksellers?

Leo Babauta:  Yeah, it’ll be available through Amazon, Border’s, Barnes and Nobles, pretty much everywhere.  It’s going to be in the actual bookstores, and of course you can buy it from my site.

Sean Daily:   Well great.  We certainly wish you much success with the book, as well as continuing the success with the blog. Which, again, is ZenHabits.net. My guest today, again, has been Leo Babauta.  He’s a simple living and productivity guru and lead blogger and founder of the popular blog Zen Habits. Leo, thanks again.

Leo Babauta:  Thank you, Sean.

Sean Daily:   Thanks, as always, to everyone listening in today. Remember, for more free on demand pod casts articles, videos, and other information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit out website at www.greenlivingideas.com.  We’d also love to hear your comments, feedback, and questions. Send us an email at [email protected]