Zen to Done – 10 Productivity Habits

05c2e4c2d3ef971c336d1c1bb66c355eThe other day I read (for the second time) Zen to Done by Leo Babauta . It’s a super quick read and I love the simplicity of it.

I’ve read Getting Things Done and a variety of other organizational books but I often felt like there was too much to implement and I, ironically, never really got to far in the process.

I thrive when I get *really* clear on what’s essential and do that. I ask myself a lot: What is most important? And, then I give all of my time, energy, and attention to the answer to that question. Which means saying “no” to a lot in order to honor my values for this phase of my life.

This can be challenging sometimes because I have so many creative dreams and ideas. Creativity is one of my top strengths, therefore, it’s crucial to exercise discipline and focus to make sure I get my projects across the finish line. This helps me zone in on what I want to do most and be more efficient and productive.

Below is a snapshot of Leo’s 10 Habits for implementing his Zen To Done (ZTD) system. I am sharing these in hopes they might help you and also as a reference and reminder of what I am committed to. 🙂

1. Collect — Get everything out of your head and onto a paper or an app so don’t forget things and also, so your to-dos aren’t just swirling around taking up energy that could be directed somewhere else. I use OmniFocus (1st version) and a notebook for this. This habit has been HUGE in helping me become more organized. Life changing huge!

2. Process — This means taking the time to process your list of things to do. Make quick decisions on what needs to be. Delete, delegate, do it immediately, defer for later, file it and repeat this process until your inboxes are empty. Soon as something comes into your mind, mailbox, phone, inbox, etc. decide what you need to do to be complete with it. Don’t just let it sit there (I’m telling myself this:)!

3. Plan — What are you going to do today? He recommends having 1-3 MIT’s (most important tasks) or Big Rocks. What will you feel happy you accomplished? Plan your day around these goals/tasks. Ideally do these in the morning with a block of time. I’ve found with my mothering schedule I have less big chunks of uninterpreted time but I can easily create little pockets of time. It’s amazing what you can get done in 5-15 minute time slots.

4. Do“The habit of “do” is the key to the ZTD system. It’s the habit that’s missing from many other productivity systems, and yet it’s the most important. All the rest is just busy work if you don’t actually do the things on your to-do list.”  The key is to create the time, limit all distractions, completely focus, and then…get excited, commit and GET IT DONE! Finish is my mantra! 🙂

5. Simple trusted system — Create a system so that you can have everything you need/want to get done in one place. Then, when you have the time and space to get things done you will be ready and you won’t waste time preparing. You can just get to work and master the habit of “Do”.

The basic idea is to categorize the things that need to get done in your system like: work, personal, errands, calls waiting for someday/maybe lists, etc. So, for example, when you have 15 minutes you can go to your phone category and complete a bunch of phone calls, or maybe batch a bunch of errands/emails, etc.

Like I said above, my meta system is OmniFocus for this. I’ve used it for the last 3.5 years and I love it. David Allen’s GTD system inspired me to get more organized on this and it made life so much easier! I not a tech queen and only use a handful of apps so there might be a bunch of newer apps you can use now. You don’t need anything fancy, in fact a notebook can easily get the job done. I also use a journal where I can jot things down because sometimes I like to turn my phone off.

6. Organize “One of the oldest organizing truisms around, but perhaps the most important of all: a place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Do you know, at this moment, where everything single thing in your life is? HA! Nope! Where do the papers go? Bills? The toys? The keys? Clothes? Once we have found a home for everything then, accordingly to Leo we want to…put it away immediately, make it a habit, pay attention to transitions, keep flat surfaces clear, label, evaluate. Yep, I would benefit from all of these suggestions. 

I especially like the  transitions one…”The time between when you’re doing one thing and when you’re doing the next thing is a transition. This is the time when you should put stuff away where it belongs and clean up your mess, but it’s also the time when we’re not thinking about that stuff and only thinking about we’re going to do next.

If I took a few minutes to put everything in it’s place before moving on to the next thing there would be a sense of accomplishment and flow. The kitchen would be cleaned after a meal, the toys/books picked up from the floor, and my desk clear when I was done. Ah! That sounds like heaven. 🙂 These mini habits probably take 5-10 minutes and could probably revolutionize my life!

I sometimes make excuses having a toddler, because their creativity (well, at least for my son) is to dump a lot of stuff on the floor. Think: 100’s of legos everywhere! The thing is it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we created the habit to put everything back in it’s place before moving onto something else.  Reminder: This habit starts with me and he will learn from me. What do I want to model for my child?

7. Review — “Let’s face it: even the best of us loses track of things over time, and loses focus on our goals, and let’s the best-planned system fall apart a little. With a busy workweek, a busy life outside of work, the best systems tend to gravitate towards chaos. That’s where the Weekly Review comes in — it gives you a chance to get things together and refocus yourself on what’s important.”

The gist of this habit: review your single long-term goals and short term goals, review your notes, review your calendar, review your lists, set your short-term goal for the week and plan your Big Rocks (MIT). This can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

8. Simplify — If you’re like me, you have a long list of tasks to do, perhaps broken down by different contexts (work, personal, errands, calls, etc.). Your list of tasks is so long that it’s overwhelming. You can never completely wipe out your list because it’s growing every day. Simplify your list down to the barest of essentials, and you can eliminate the need for complex planning systems.” YES!

What I do most days is get out a piece of paper and write:

1. My 3 biggest Creative Process Goals (same as MIT)
2. Blissiplines (exercise, meditation, nutrition, etc.)
3. 3-5 little tasks I’d like to accomplish for the day

“You don’t need a huge to-do list to be productive — just do the stuff that matters.” This has been vital for me in the last 3 years as I integrate my new role as a creative mother!

9. Routine — Routines can also greatly simplify your work day and personal life, as your day won’t be overly chaotic and complicated, you can group similar tasks together and batch process them, and you can be sure of doing the things you really need to do. Most importantly, it puts you in control of your day, instead of putting you at the mercy of the ebb and flow of all incoming requests. Without a routine, we have no way of saying “no” to requests as they come in, and we are at the beck and call of every person who wants our time and every website that wants our attention. That’s not a good thing, not if you want to get the important things done.”

I like routine and I also like spontaneity. I’ve found that regular routines help me to happily get the important things done. And, then my mind is less cluttered and more spaciousness which allows me to enjoy the adventure and unstructured time even more. I didn’t used to believe this but experience has shown me differently.;) I have an awesome morning and evening routine but I want to create more routines for meals and cleaning.

10. Find your passion– Some ideas from Leo: Is there something you already love doing? What do you spend hours reading about? Brainstorm. Ask around and surf for possibilities. Give it a try first. Never quit trying.

Other wise words: Don’t quit your job just yet. Do some research. What are your obstacles? Make a plan. Take action. Practice and practice, and practice some more. Be persistent. 

*I intend to share a video soon on some misconceptions I believed about following your passion for years that I think limited my results, successes and creativity.

Talk doesn’t cook rice. —  Chinese Proverb

Now, the action part! Leo doesn’t recommend doing all these habits at once. Look at where you might need some extra attention and start there. Implementing 1-4 habits at a time until they become routine.

The habits I’m starting with are: Process, Do, Organize, & Review.

Yahooo!! I’ve completed my #1 Creative Process Goal with this blog post. Now, I’m gonna go do a 15 min workout (5o burpees, 50 squats, 50 pushups, 50 lunges and 50 mountain climbers) and then do my #2, which is doing a bunch of online tests for my appointment with Dr. Daniel Amen next week. I am excited to learn how to supercharge my brain even more and hopefully his wisdom will help me with my organizational skills. 😉

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P.S. If you want to do a quick Amen Brain Checklist you can find a PDF HERE.

Bliss Diary – July 12, 2015

Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started. — David Allen

Hello, Sunday! My morning wasn’t what I expected…there were dishes in the sink, toddler creations around the house, laundry pile, blueberries spilled on the floor, our dog peed and pooped inside and chewed up my one of my favorite headbands…then, a glitch when we transferred one computer to another and I lost some of my data which included deleting all my contacts on my phone.

Usually I move through things pretty fast, but I was feeling pretty crabby for about 30 minutes. I felt like I was going to cry with frustration, especially about the computer and phone stuff.

Then, I sat down to meditate. One of the text messages that was saved in the weird glitch was from our dear friend, Dave, who passed away in October. It’s been almost 9 months and I haven’t been able to delete his texts or his phone number. Sitting with his death in my meditation made my so-called “crappy” morning look like bliss.

I felt a rush of gratitude that I am still here (alive) writing these words. Then, I surrendered and shifted. This is the nature of life. Things come and they go. We come and we go. Everything passes. Sometimes the sun shines and sometimes  it rains. I was reminded that each breath I breathe is a gift. Truly a gift, no matter what the weather’s like.

Intention/Affirmation: I intend to get clear about what I want to complete during our declutter challenge on the Oasis. I want to get rid everything I don’t love and creating new systems to thrive. I am clearing space in my mind, home and life. #getthingsdone

Nutrition:
7:30 morning delight (same as yesterday)
11:00 strawberries and small piece of watermelon
12:45 salmon fillet from last night + small green goddess salad
2:30 chia lemonade
6:00 chicken + guacamole + bigger goddess green salad + fresh coconut meat + water

Movement:
20 minutes of rebounding
10 minutes of yin yoga before bed

Meditation: 15 minutes + 40 minute napitation

Body Goodness: I am surprisingly not that sore for my workout yesterday. My body feels good. Still moving through stuff. #detoxin’ Thanks to Ellen Mary, I am going to bring back daily skin brushing into my morning routine to help with the cleansing and stimulate the lymph system. I am also amazed at my success rate with naps. I laid down to do a guided meditation and didn’t think I was going to fall asleep and then…my son woke me up when he woke up from his nap. It had been 40 minutes. #queennapper

Mind/Heart/Spirit Goodness: My morning dealings with “stuff” plus the preparation for our declutter challenge next week has really inspired me. I want to elevate my habits in regards to organization/getting things done.

I’m going to dive back into my organization books:
Sink Reflections by Maria Cilley
A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Getting Things Done by Dave Allen
And, one of my favs Leo from zenhabits.net

I have a vision of what it will look and creating simplifying/organizational habits are essential to making that a reality. I must do them until they are just what I do, they become routine. I wouldn’t think of missing my meditation habit. I’ve done it for 8 years without missing a day (some days I was breastfeeding but still showing up). I’ve need to create a strong why and live into the benefits.

I sometimes put things off that don’t light me up. I want to read, write, create and be divinely feminine and not deal with phone calls, cleaning, little things that need to be fixed, etc. But, the reality is we all have to do these things, unless…we hire someone to do it all. Hmmmm, if I’m asking the question if I had it all my way… I may choose to include that in my desire list. 🙂 For now, I feel called to master this skill/habit more.

The ironic thing is when I do a bunch of completions and follow GTD principles I have more space in my life to create + do the things I love because I’m not dissipating energy on things I’m procrastinating on or things I haven’t finished yet. David Allen says:

If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.

Would love to hear what has worked for you. Books/Resources/Tips?

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for Whole Foods and the brilliant founder, John Mackey. I am grateful for RIE and all the parenting wisdom I’ve gained in the last 3 years. It has made life sooo much easier. I am grateful for our amazing communication as a family, we rarely have power struggles. I am grateful for the slow rhythm we’ve chosen to live in order to honor our son’s natural rhythm. I am grateful for all the time, money and energy we have to create the life we live, and for all the people that believe in us, support us and love us. #thankyou

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Bliss Diary – June 11, 2015

None of us have enough time, yet we all have the same amount. It is time that we quit whining about this and accept that we can’t get it all done and just do what we can. — Maria Cilley

Affirmation/Intention: I have plenty of time and energy to do everything I desire to do. I rest in each moment with presence, love and gratitude.

Nutrition:
7:30 am
at tea (coconut milk, ghee, collagen, cacao, peppermint, stevia)
12:00 pm Salad bars (as my son calls them) – mixed greens, avocado, coconut aminos, lemon all mashed up with my hands and then wrapped in nori sheets
1:30 pm 3 coconut macaroons + lemonade (water, lemons, stevia)
3:45 pm Iced maca coco shake
6:45 pm Salmon w/chard + spinach with some cucumbers and lentil dip

Yummy Toddler Shake:
1/2 banana
1/4 c. coconut milk
1/4 c. water
2 tsp carob
2 tsp flax seeds
1 tsp. maca
1/2 scoop of collagen
pinch of cinnamon + pinch of ground vanilla
Blend + Enjoy!

Movement:
* 25 min — 5 min walk + 20 min run (ok, probably more like jog) pushing E in the stroller with our dog, Zeus, on a leash + a slight drizzle = adventure. 🙂

* 45 min walk/adventure w/E at one of my favorite spots (see pic below)
* 60 minute adventure walking to park and our local music festival

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Meditation: 15 minutes 

Here are the I am a healthy Goddess affirmations to help you optimize even more. 🙂


Growth Opportunity:
Home organization. Being organized hasn’t come naturally for me. It’s an area that I’ve had to cultivate over the years. I’m really proud with my progress. I tend towards more of the minimalist lifestyle because I like the spaciousness and simplicity. It’s also easier to clean and organize when you don’t have a lot of stuff. 🙂 I am creating new systems to optimize cleaning our home, and organizing our stuff and keeping it all zen-like.

These are a few resources I am working with:
Sink Reflections by Maria Cilley
A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Part of my practice is to appreciate what does get done! It can be easy to look around the house and see all the things that still need work. I’ve found this especially true with a super curious toddler.. 😉

“Life is too short to dwell on what doesn’t get done. Celebrate what you do every day and start fresh each morning.” ~ Maria Cilley (aka Flylady)

Mind/Heart Goodness:
On my run this morning I was thinking about my beautiful friend, Jane, as I was saying Hi to everyone we passed. She has a blog called: Random Acquaintances. I read some of her posts yesterday and love the beauty, connection and stories she shares.

It inspired me to think about the sweetness in all of our encounters. In my meditation practice I got tears thinking about how much I desire this connection. I love to live in the deep waters as my friend and beloved mentor, Catherine Ingram, says. I talked with her about this when she visited a few months ago.  She is beauty, presence and truth embodied.

I think this is one of the reasons I love to write/blog…to swim and live in the deep waters and connect with others that want the same. Writing helps me feel and live deeper. I want to do everything I can to be, feel and experience the bliss of being alive. This is one of my greatest joys.

Gratitude + Appreciation: I am grateful that my husband cleaned up the kitchen today. #daymaker I am grateful that I saw some friends at the park/festival today. It’s always nice to connect with awesome mamas. I am grateful for Whole Foods. I am grateful for all the years I’ve experimented in the kitchen. I am grateful for my meditation practice. I am grateful for my parents for bringing me into the world. I am grateful for my commitment to living an authentic life. #grateful #blessed

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