Zen to Done

What is it?

The Zen to Done System is a productivity method designed to efficiently manage tasks and time. It focuses on developing productive habits rather than using tools and processes to manage work.

The Zen to Done System was designed by Leo Babauta, a simplicity blogger and author. Babauta built upon the ideas of previous productivity systems such as Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen and modeled a system of 10 simple habits which do not require any complex equipment or methodologies.

In fact, the entire idea of Zen to Done is founded on the concept of minimalism, i.e., work less, achieve more.

Why does it work?

  • Focuses on doing things here and now as opposed to planning
  • Minimizes the time and effort spent on processing things
  • Simple to follow in the long run
  • Focuses on changing one habit at a time
  • Structures the workflow management
  • Can be followed at your own pace
  • Focuses on achieving goals and not just getting things done as they come

How does it work?

The Zen to Done System works by adopting these simple 10 habits:

  1. Collect
  2. Collecting your thoughts on a paper when and as they come is the first step to clarity. Pen down everything that crosses your mind at the dinner table, in the shower or on the go. Leo suggests carrying a notebook and a pen with you always.

  3. Process
  4. Process the information you have written down every day. It also includes processing your inbox. Delete or delegate things as needed, archive the outdated, flag the urgent, and highlight the important tasks.

  5. Plan
  6. Plan for the week ahead and do the most important tasks first after the urgent tasks are delivered. You do not have to do it all at once. Plan 1 or 2 assignments a week.

  7. Do
  8. Now get to the actual part. Doing tasks! Do them one by one, with complete concentration and then move to the next.

  9. Simple Trusted System
  10. You do not need to use specialized software or tools that are time-consuming. Simple list-making reviewing it regularly will do the job

  11. Organize
  12. Keeping everything organized is the key to staying productive. From your mailbox to the work table, keep everything organized to never miss the sight of your goals.

  13. Review
  14. Review your goals regularly and try to follow one goal at a time to avoid distraction. Break it into multiple short-term goals and do them one by one.

  15. Simplify
  16. Simplify your life by reducing the list of things you wish to do. Resort to the most important tasks and delete the less important ones to save your energy and time.

  17. Routine
  18. Follow a routine throughout the day and plan your week accordingly. A pattern helps you stay focused and fresh.

  19. Find Your Passion
  20. Working for your passion never lets you feel tied or overloaded. If you wish to become productive at work, make your passion your profession.

Example

Sarah was a freelance writer and was working over 10 hours a day. Her weekends were usually booked, weekdays were never free, and she felt exhausted even though writing was her passion.

She wanted to spend less time on her laptop while still growing her business and having some time by herself. She had tried all the good time management software, work planners and other tools but no use. That was when she came to ZTD.

So, Sarah sat one day with a notebook and a pen and listed down all her tasks due for the week. She processed the list quickly and marked the most important tasks, highlighted the urgent ones and cut across the tasks that were yet a week or two far from submission.

Then, Sarah opened her inboxes and quickly sat down to respond to the messages first before starting to work. In less than half an hour, she was already working on a writing task due the next day.

After 2 hours of focused working, without any mobile and social media distraction in between, she had successfully done her task for the day, responded to emails and was now free for lunch.

After lunch, she looked through the list and saw this week's important tasks. She decided to pick one and spent 1 hour working through it.

Following the same routine every day, Sarah found that she was getting more things done without any stress and delegated half an hour every morning to bidding for new projects.

Soon, she worked only 5 hours a day and managed to lock two more clients in a month. Smart work was definitely paying her better.

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