Zen to Done - Leo Babauta

Zen to Done - Leo Babauta

Learn with this summary of the book by Leo Babauta how to avoid burn-out, through the Zen to Done method, and cultivate Zen Habits capable of increasing your productivity and decreasing your stress level!

Add to Favorites
Add to read
Mark as read

David Allen, one of the world's leading productivity experts, says, "A lot of the stress people feel does not come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started."

The chaotic routine of modern life has probably given you the habit of starting your day thinking, “I have so many things to do that I don't know where to start”. 

Whether concerning personal or professional life, people talk a lot about the importance of striving and reaching the long-awaited “top of the mountain”. We often spend sleepless nights, skip meals and even stop relaxing to complete our demands.

The thing is, as we sacrifice more and more, we may suffer from a not-so-pleasant disorder. Called burn-out syndrome, this mental state is nothing more than a psychic syndrome caused by extreme exhaustion, and excessive accumulation of stress.

Here comes a productivity methodology whose focus is to do everything that needs to be done with a zen mindset. Read this summary of “Zen to Done” to learn more about it.

The book “Zen to Done”

Released in 2011 by Waking Lion Press, the book brings, in a compiled form, many insights and teachings of the Zen To Done (ZTD) method to the reader. Its reading aims to improve productivity and organization with the simplest possible structure.

Over its 69 pages, the work“Zen to Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System” shows that being productive is not synonymous with being busy. The focus is to carry out your tasks without needing a huge amount of planning, leaving your mind lighter and your life more organized, peaceful, and happy.

Who is Leo Babauta?

Leo Babauta is the creator of Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog about implementing zen into everyday life. In addition, he is also the author ofthe bestseller “The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and Life”.

Husband and father of six, he has lived in California since 2010, where he lives a simple life focused on sharing Zen through his works and posts.

Why should you read “Zen to Done”?

The author says that the book was written for those looking for ways to get their lives more organized and who want to get things done on their lists. This read is also perfect for those who haven't been able to adapt to hacks the more conventional and cast-iron productivity systems.

Babauta adapts some of the best productivity systems like “Getting Things Done” (GTD) by David Allen and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, adds other useful concepts, and refines them into a simple and practical productivity system.

Insights from the book “Zen to Done”

  • Zen to Done (ZTD) tries to solve five problems that many people have with Getting Things Done (GTD): the series of habit changes, the lack of focus on doing concrete things, the GTD breakdown, stress, and lack of focus on goals;
  • The ZTD journey is individual, the goal is to create a productivity strategy that is made especially for your purposes; 
  • ZTD is a system based on ten habits, but you can choose the ones that make the most sense in your life;
  • The focus is to learn, at most, between two and three habits simultaneously;
  • The ultimate goal is to be able to insert a new habit into your routine within 30 days.

What is the Zen to Done (ZTD) method?

To Done (ZTD) is a simple and powerful system aimed at developing habits capable of keeping all your tasks and projects organized, making your workday more uncomplicated and structured. It also helps with things like keeping your desk and mailbox clean.

With it, you'll end your day doing what you need to do, without distractions. An important point of it is that the author himself doesn't expect you to adopt the whole system - after all, everyone works differently.

That's the beauty of ZTD, you can choose the habits that work best for you!

How to achieve the art of making it happen from ZTD?

The full version ofZTD relies on creating 10 habits, one at a time.However, the author does not recommend adopting all the habits at once, the best is to adopt two or three along the way.

That's because one of the main problems with productivity systems is that they are a series of habit changes that people try to accomplish all at once.

The important thing for the ZTD system is that you see which of the ten habits will be truly useful for your life and prioritize their assimilation into your routine. For this, Babauta presents the eight commandments of the “Habit Change Methodology”.

Habit Change Methodology

  1. Commitment: Every day commit to changing your habits;
  2. Practice: Changing habits and routines, like any skill, takes practice. One tip is to commit to a “30 Day Challenge”;
  3. Motivation: find as many ways as possible to motivate yourself;
  4. Monitoring: log your progress daily;
  5. Support: Have a support network, join an online or find a habit-changing partner;
  6. Rewards: Always reward yourself;
  7. Focus: stay focused on these 30 days of the challenge;
  8. Positive thinking: is perhaps the most important, because as the author himself says “if you tell yourself that you can do something, that you will do it, then you will do it”.

What are the 10 ZTD ​​Habits?

Habit 1: Vest

One of the greatest evils of the post- Fourth Industrial Revolution is that too many ideas pop into our heads, papers pile up on our desks, and tasks are delegated to us along the way. We usually get mentally stuffed.

The big problem with mental fatigue is that we don't have a system to collect all the information, papers, and emails that come into our lives, to keep them organized systematically.

For this problem, the solution is the habit of collecting. Remember that collecting is not accumulating, the important thing is to have a few places to store information and papers, whether it's a physical folder or a file on Google Drive.

Habit 2: Process

Once you've gotten into the habit of collecting stuff so you can carry it with you everywhere, the question arises: what to do with everything you've collected? You process the information! Here's how to do it:

  1. The process from start to finish, making quick and immediate decisions;
  2. Delete, if not, throw it away;
  3. Delegate the functions that are not yours to those who should perform them;
  4. Do the short tasks right away;
  5. Defer for later if the task takes more than 2 minutes to complete;
  6. File what you need for future reference;
  7. Repeat the process always.

Habit 3: Plan

The simplest habit but perhaps the most important one. Why? Because it's what gives purpose to your day and week.

Think of it this way: So you have a to-do list and a whole new day starting. What are you going to do today?

At the beginning of each week, sit down and build your to-do list with the following steps in mind:

  1. Planning: choose and set only one or two big tasks a day so you won't be overwhelmed;
  2. MITs: each morning, you decide your Most Important Tasks for that day;
  3. Complete them: make it happen;
  4. Look back and say 'ahh': MITsyou complete your, you will feel victorious.

Habit 4: Do

Don't multitask or let yourself be interrupted. Emphasize the “make it happen” of the system, tools, planning, and to-do lists. ZTD focuses on doing its tasks one at a time, thus excluding everything else.

Habit 5: Simple and reliable system

Unlike GTD, in Zen it is important to maintain a simple system that is constantly used, that is reliable, and that keeps your information. Here are the three components of a simple, reliable system:

  1. Composition: A simple system consisting of inboxes, a calendar, lists, and a reference system;
  2. Tools: It is also important that you use very simple tools, so the system will not need much maintenance;
  3. Usage: Finally, the most important thing is that you use the system, and get into the habit of checking it daily.

Habit 6: Organize

Your life can be completely organized with one rule: put everything in its place.

Habit 7: Review

The author proposes the Simplified Weekly Review to review your goals every week. During your weekly review, you should go to your single annual goal, see the progress you've made this past week, and what action steps you should take to move forward next week.

It should take 30 minutes if you stay focused. Don't get distracted, and follow each step quickly:

  1. Review your single long-term goal, and short-term goal;
  2. Review your goals;
  3. Review your calendar;
  4. Review your lists;
  5. Set your short-term goal for this week and what your big tasks will be.

Habit 8: Simplify

Simplify your list to the bare essentials. You can eliminate the need for complex planning systems and avoid unnecessary problems.

Habit 9: Establish Routines

Create weekly and daily routines to give your day and week order and calm. Routines can also greatly simplify your workday and personal life, keeping you from finding yourself chaotically overworked.

Habit 10: Find your Passion

Of all the Zen To Done, this is one of the most difficult – and yet, perhaps the most important. Although not essential to the system, it helps to answer fundamental questions to set up your routine.

  • What do you want to be doing right now? 
  • Or what do you love to do? 
  • What is your dream job, and how can you get it? 

More books to lead a calm and orderly life

It may seem impossible to find peace in this frenetic, busy, and crazy world we live in, but Mark Williams and Danny Penman prove otherwise. In the book “Mindfulness”, you will find the tools you need to better deal with emotional problems such as anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and exhaustion.

Not sure how to find the passion that will help create your routine? You will learn with the book “Ikigai” and Ken Mogi how to develop more by taking advantage of your journey of self-knowledge through resilience and robustness, joy, and satisfaction to keep moving forward.

Finally, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky show you in “Make Time” how to better control your time, focus on what matters, and perform highly productive tasks throughout your day.

Okay, so how do you live up to the ZTD?

  • Habit changes require a lot of energy and focus to be successful, being most successful when done one at a time;
  • For people who want the simplest possible system, here's the minimalist version of ZTD: collect, process, plan, do;
  • Make quick decisions about what's important;
  • Do your MITs early in the day to get them out of the way and ensure they get done; 
  • Eliminate all distractions, so just focus on your task as much as possible;
  • Don't try to multitask.

Rate the summary of “Zen to Done”

Thank you so much for checking out more of this summary of our platform! We hope that the reading has been fruitful for your personal and professional growth.

As Gandhi once said, “there is more to life than increasing your speed”. Therefore, it would be amazing to know if we were able to show that calm is the greatest ally of productivity.

In addition, if you want to know the author's thoughts in full, purchase the complete work by clicking on the cover of the book below:

Zen to Done - Leo Babauta
Zen to Done - Leo Babauta