Being Productive with “Zen to Done”

As part of my 30-Day January Immaculata, I’m experimenting with a method of productivity called Zen To Done (ZTD).   The system was created by Leo Babauta, author of the popular blog Zen Habits.  A few years ago Leo, like me, decided to make some changes, starting with quitting smoking, and in the past 4 years he’s completely transformed his life and career, becoming a prolific author and blogger.  I’m a big fan, and he’s been a big inspiration for me and this site.

Zen to Done is a pared down version of the Getting Things Done (GTD) method which has become very popular and appropriated by folks I admire like Merlin Mann.  Zen to Done takes a very simplified approach to these methods, which was why I chose to start my year off with it.

So why a productivity system?  Well, whether you know it or not, you are already using a system.  If it works for you and you are constantly achieving your goals, fantastic!  I encourage you to share in the comments section below.  But if you are like me, your system is, for lack of a better word, broken.

My system is to collect my ideas and to-do lists in as many different places as possible.  I email myself notes and reminders.  I voice record ideas into my iphone.  I type messages and email addresses and ideas into my phone’s notepad.  I have 4 different notebooks.  I have upwards of 40 started documents on my desktop at any given time with new ideas.  Occasionally I do finish something, but it’s generally when there is an absolute deadline and I am forced to figure shit out on the fly.  Otherwise, I am in a perpetual state of being overwhelmed, not knowing where to even begin.  So while I do try to map out my days to a certain degree, the 6 hours of slated “work time” are generally spent bouncing from document to document to Facebook to email to Facebook to Facebook to Facebook.

Here’s a brief look at what Zen to Done does:

  • Creates a process for collecting information, minimizing the number of places your ideas and daily tasks are recorded
  • Schedules daily and weekly times to process all the information you are recording.
  • Makes a weekly plan, which focuses on daily priorities
  • Gives tips on how to focus on the daily priorities without distraction

As today is my first day instituting it, I can’t speak on how effective it is yet, but I know that just having read it (it’s a downloadable PDF), I am feeling more on top of my game.  I’ve already minimized the number of places I am recording my ideas and tasks, and have my three main priorities for the day all ready to go.  Perhaps the greatest testament to it: I’ve written this and it will likely post before 9:30am.  That’s crazy!

So, if you are interested in joining me, you can download the PDF here.

Otherwise, stay tuned, as I will be writing at length about my progress with ZTD, as well as sharing other productivity ideas and hacks as I try them out in the coming weeks.

So, what do you think ?