A Noob’s Guide to the Zen to Done Method to Organize Your Life

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Are you having difficulty keeping up with your to-do list amid the ongoing community quarantine? Well, there’s a method that’s been generating buzz for its simple yet effective method to boost overall productivity levels and optimism. Introducing the Zen to Done (ZTD) system.

Developed by author Leo Babauta, the Zen to Done system helps you build individual habits on a step-by-step basis as you work through a to-do list. It’s a simple way of keeping yourself organized and productive to take on whatever life throws at you with ease. In a nutshell, ZTD encourages improving your task management skills by forming one habit at a time. So how can you apply this to your daily life?

While the full ZTD system recommends forming 10 habits altogether, Babauta has a condensed version he calls the Minimalist ZTD that involves four habits of the system:

  • Collect. Get ideas and tasks out of your head, and transcribe them into a list. It’s important to document everything so you don’t miss out on anything. Even if you have a photographic memory ala Sherlock Holmes, there’s a chance you might forget something so write it down. 
  • Process. Review your list on a daily basis, and decide how you should act on each item in the said list. Babauta’s rule is that if an important item can be done in under two minutes (like acknowledging an important work e-mail), do it immediately so it’s out of your way. If it would take longer than that, defer it to a later time. If there are things that you can delegate, then do so in order for you to channel your energy to more important matters. 
  • Plan. Cherrypick high-priority items from your list, and formulate a game plan to accomplish them on a weekly and then daily basis. However, you need to be flexible enough to accommodate unexpected urgent items on your to-do list. 
  • Do. Schedule time to get those items done without distractions. That means muting your social media notifications or putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. 

The great thing about the ZTD system is that it’s easy to follow, and you can choose whatever tools are available to you so you can keep yourself in check. You can write things down longhand if that’s your style or through your smartphone if that’s what you prefer. 

If you focus on one thing at a time, there’s a higher chance of you succeeding in everything you have to do. You’ll be less stressed out as well, so why not give the ZTD system a shot? If you’re interested in knowing more about the ZTD productivity system, purchase Babauta’s e-book today. 


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