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Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

This is Week 29 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether Zen to Done implemented with GTDAgenda could help me get more done. I continued many of its practices as I had already implemented them, being sure to plan for the week and choose 1-3 MITs for the day. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How Zen to Done Saved My Sanity This Week

  • It was good to return to a weekly review. I hadn’t done this for a while and found it helpful to think of getting things done using a weekly time frame and not just a daily one.
  • Validated what I have learned so far. As I incorporated so many of the productivity hacks and approaches that work for me as a part of Zen to Done, I felt good about the system I’m building for myself. Knowing that it works for Leo is nice, too.
  • Liked the clear connections between goals, projects, and tasks. Zen to Done encourages this kind of thinking, unlike GTD. GTDAgenda’s biggest strength is in this area. The logical, organized part of me loved being able to see the flow from higher-level thinking to day-to-day tasks.

How Zen to Done Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Resisted more than one MIT. Zen to Done suggests a daily focus of one to three MITs. I found that after determining the day’s frog, I really didn’t want to spend the time determining what the next most important tasks were. I continued using my routine time for addressing “Must Do” tasks on some days and on others, other commitments kept me from doing more than one MIT. However, I doubt that Leo would insist I choose two more MITs. That was probably my desire to “do it right.”
  • Distracted by new projects. Not only are we back to doing school, but I’ve had two major, exciting projects to work on this week (more on this later). Whenever that happens, I have a hard time focusing on anything else, which unfortunately includes productivity hacks.
  • Not ready to use a different application. I realized that I couldn’t give GTDAgenda a completely fair review because I’m happy with the programs I use to manage my time and tasks. I was given a free membership in exchange for this review. For those in need of a task management app, it offers one place for managing your goals, projects, MITs (I starred them as Next Actions for the week), and routines. I did not want to pay to test the iPhone app, but I know that would have made it more appealing. I did find the program to be a bit laggier than I am used to. I couldn’t find the schedule feature to use time blocking, but I use Google calendar anyway. Tasks with due dates can be synced to GCal. Emails can be used to create tasks on GTDAgenda, but it appears that each project has its own separate email. This can be a plus or minus depending on how you use it. If you don’t have dozens of new projects, you can create a contact for each project and just email the task to it without trying to remember a special syntax for assigning projects (I hate that).

Did Zen to Done Help Me Get Things Done?

I was tempted to say no because I didn’t notice a change. But honestly, yes. The fact is that I have created my own Zen to Done approach that really works. Choosing 1-3 MITs doesn’t work for me, however.


I love weekly planning, but I prefer choosing 1 MIT per area instead of daily MITs.


The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 30

This week I’ll be testing Heatmapping from Productive Flourishing.

The concept. There are times of day when we get more done. There are other times of day when we can’t seem to peel ourselves off the couch. These time periods aren’t necessarily obvious to us, so we think we are going to get all those digital photos organized at a time when the only pictures we have the energy to look at are funny cat shots online.

If we know what level of productivity we’re capable of at a certain time, we can plan accordingly and also take steps that can help us move up a level–like from the couch to a desk chair.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the article on Productive Flourishing. Download a free blank heat map to identify your peak productive times. Rearrange your schedule and plan your work to take advantage of your hot spots.

Click here to see how heatmapping worked for me.

If you would like to win a free Premium GTDAgenda account for a year, please comment with why you’re interested by 9/6/13. 

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices