Tim Longhurst's Blog

Zenning things done

June 11th, 2008 · No Comments

Zenning Things Done - all text in image is reproduced in blog post.Getting Things Done is a popular book 259 page book. I’ve read it. I like it. It’s got some good ideas. And if you stay with me on this post, you can get half the book’s value in a fraction of the time it would take to read the whole book.

First of all, you need to know that the most famous rule in the book is the two-minute rule™. The idea is that as you process all of your stuff, if you find a to-do item that can be completed in less than two minutes, you just do it right away.  Otherwise, you have to process it for later action. More on that below.

In searching for GTD crib notes, I came across Leo Babauta’s Zen To Done (ZTD) – a blog post on his zenhabits.net. Well, he’s written a great post there and by summarizing his notes and reflecting on my own GTD notes, I now present to you: Zenning Things Done – Not a 259 page book – or even a 10 point list – but a simple 5 step process that gives you the gist of what GTD and ZTD are getting at.

Zenning Things Done

Make your life’s work something you’re passionate about – your task list will be a list of rewards.

Now, onto the five steps…

1. Collect
Regularly record thoughts, commitments, lessons to a notebook. Empty notebook into your inbox daily.

2. Process & Organise inbox into a simple, Trusted System
Every day process your inbox by working out the very next action: do it; trash it; delegate it; defer it; file it.
Action Categories: Projects (very broad); Next Actions* (very specific); Calendar (time specific).
Defer Categories: General Reference Filing; Someday lists;  ‘Tickler file’.
*Have context lists based on where the next step will be taken: work, home, phone, out&about, waiting.

3. Routine: Review and Simplify
Morning: Check calendar; context lists; set Most Important Tasks (MITs); exercise; process inboxes; do first MIT.
Evening: Process your email and inboxes; review your day; write in your journal; prepare for next day.

Weekly: Review all goals: track progress & set tasks for week ahead.
Monthly and Yearly: More comprehensive review of goals;  values and visions.

Regularly simplify your commitments and incoming information stream. Ensure tasks are aligned to goals.

4. Plan
Set and schedule Most Important Tasks (MITs). 3 per day, the earlier in the day these are completed the better.

5. Do (focus)
Choose task based on (in order): Context (where you are), Time available, Energy available, Priority.
Focus on this task. Deal with interruptions by making a quick note in your notepad and getting back on track: stay focused.

That’s it. Man, so simple, so elegant, so difficult to imagine all of that becoming a regular habit.

Well that’s the other thing I liked about Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits: when he writes about his habits, I’m convinced he really does do the stuff he says he does. Beyond basic organisational habits, he even explains why he gets up early and why he’s chosen to become more relaxed behind the wheel. It might sound like too much information, and maybe for some it is, but he seems to have a strong following of people who appreciate his candid notes on turning life philosophies into daily practice.

Speaking of Zen… As I’ve spent a night reading blog posts with the word ‘zen’ in them, I’d also like to mention the two Zen-ist people I know, blogger and speaker, WadeM and futurist, Josh Floyd. Both advocates of meditation and two of the most likable and inspiring people I know.  The world needs a whole lot more of whatever they’ve got!

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