Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

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.

**UPDATE**

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

Heatmap

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

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Can Limiting Choices Help You Get More Done?

Can Limiting Choices Help You Get More Done?

can limiting choices help you get more done

Image courtesy of nattavut/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is Week 28 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether limiting my choices could help me get more done. I simplified my daily routine and rewarded myself with an A for every day I accomplished 90% of it. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more details.

How Limiting Choices Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Finally gave me a sense that I was doing enough. Getting an “A” for the day made a huge difference in my satisfaction with how I spent my time. Previously, I don’t think there was ever a day I got every single aspect of my routine done. It was more than any human being could accomplish. This time I did it and without feeling that I had to be perfect.
  • Gave me guilt-free time. Because I included free time as part of my routine, I could kick back and do something completely frivolous without feeling I needed to be doing something else. It was like being on vacation at home.
  • Motivated me to work ahead. Because I finally had a routine I could actually finish, I found myself using those odd times to finish my tasks early. It was the strangest feeling because I hadn’t done this before. There was no point. Why work ahead when you’ll never finish it all anyway? I think I was able to achieve what I was looking for from Beat the Week.

How Limiting Choices Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Trouble defining the A. On a couple of days, I found it a pain to determine if I’d done 90% of the tasks. I do enough math with the kids! I also needed to define what “doing” each task meant. I wasn’t sure if I needed to require 100% completion of each to count. I didn’t like the ambiguity.
  • Accepting the B. I only earned a B one day this week and I had to really think about this. Did that mean the approach wasn’t working? Was I allowed to have an off day? I wasn’t sure.

Did Limiting Choices Help Me Get Things Done?

Oh my, YES! My household and cleaning tasks are completely caught up. For the first time in weeks, I even had my blog posts done ahead of time. But even more important for me than getting things done is that I finally feel good about me and how I’m managing my work. I realized that I am like the teacher who can’t be pleased when it comes to evaluating my own work. That is going to stop. I decided that making any effort to do a task in the routine counted and furthermore, having a day a week that I don’t get an A is more than O.K. This spontaneous, fun-loving lady will wither with too much rigidity.

**UPDATE**

I still limit my choices just so I don’t drive myself crazy trying to decide on lots of good things. But I don’t “rate” myself at all anymore. As long as I am meeting my deadlines (external and self-imposed) and I am making time for the most important things in my life, I don’t feel the need to grade myself. My perfectionism has died down and I am much more relaxed thankfully!

Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 29

This week I’ll be testing Zen to Done using GTDAgendaI read Leo Babauta’s book some time ago, but I am amazed by how many of the practices that improve my productivity it encompasses. Like GTD, it emphasizes collection of tasks into an inbox and a weekly review. Like Covey’s quadrants, it emphasizes focusing on important, goal-related tasks. It incorporates routines, time blocking, and even timers if you like. One to three MITs (most important tasks) are planned for each week and each day and are addressed first, similar to Eat That Frog.

The concept. Leo describes the system he uses to get things done. He emphasizes the need to spend more time doing than playing with systems. He also keeps it simple enough that people who dislike more complex systems will approve.

Although Leo recommends paper, I was given the opportunity to try Zen to Done using a GTDAgenda premium membership free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the basics of Zen to Done here. Implement with paper or if you’re interested in trying GTDAgenda, sign up for a free account here, then read how to implement Zen to Done using it.

To see how my week with Zen to Done went, click here.

If you’ve tried limiting choices, please comment. Click here to follow me on Twitter.

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

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