Monday, 18 February 2013

All Stars Guest Post by Steve: Zen to Done review

I'm delighted to welcome a guest post from Steve, the Philofaxy King himself! Thank you, Steve, for a fantastic post about a book that I love and I'd forgotten that I did a very brief review here.  

It might shock you to hear or you might be surprised to hear that I think of myself as one of the most disorganised people there is!  I'm terrible at doing things I should be doing. I get diverted on to other things that I hadn't planned doing far too often. I could blame my lack of focus or motivation for it, but I have never been the sort of person that has Vision and Goals and all that sort of stuff.

When I worked I used to hate the annual review cycle of trying to set these sort of things. My job was mainly reacting to other peoples demands, I wasn't in a job producing widgets so I couldn't have a goal of produce n widgets in the year and then the following year produce n+5% widgets in the following year etc etc etc. You know the story I'm sure.....

In a vain attempt to harness my efforts and actually have some record of what I have done or acheived, I do use my Filofax organiser to record a very sketchy journal, and to list my To-Do's and lists. This sort of works, but away from my desk life continues to be slightly dis-organised. I have a list of jobs todo that I need to do one day... but you know there's always far easier and nicer things to do...

When I have dead lines to meet, I'm quite good at meeting them, I use my organiser to highlight things I'm planning to do in the future and plan things like posts on Philofaxy but I will admit I don't really go in to the small detail very often about events and things I'm planning to get done. It would be better I suppose if I delegated stuff better may be!!!

It gets worse....... I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to read Getting Things Done by David Allen, there's something about the book I just can't get on with, the way it's written or the layout or something. If I try to read it at night it just sends me to sleep... it doesn't grab me by the throat and keep me awake and the brain active enough to make me want to keep reading it. People have tried to explain the basic principles of GTD to me but my eyes just glaze over and my mind drifts off to something else and once again it's a lost cause. If you are one of those people that have tried to explain it to me, I apologise here and now for my lack of attention, yawning, looking at my watch etc.

So many other people have read it and have put it in to action within the Philofaxy community, I think I must be missing out somewhere... this has to be the answer to my haphazard journey through my late life? Or does it matter at all? Well I think it does... so I'm always looking out for hints and tips to try out myself and to also share with the rest of the people within the Philofaxy community... I'm that sort of guy!!!

OK here's where it gets better, here's where you take a grip of my wrist and wrestle me back on to solid ground and stop me from disappearing over the cliff edge.....

A few weeks ago... someone... sorry I've forgotten who it was or where it was shared a link about 'Zen To Done' by 
Leo Babautaas as usual I drifted off from what ever it was I was doing... clicking on the link or putting the phrase in to Google to find out more! I found the book and bought it on my Kindle. At first I thought oh here we go again.. it's another one of 'those' books, but this one did grab my attention and the approach appealed to me in a different way to previous attempts to getting my self vaguely organised...

As I've stated above I've never managed to read Getting Things Done by David Allen, so I will have to trust the judgement of Leo Babautaas as to what the differences are between the two approaches!  The first thing is he says that you don't have to do all of the  habit changes in one go. You can adapt to ZTD gradually and yet the changes are still effective. The book covers this in the first chapter, so straight away you will know what the differences are between ZTD and GTD.  He then intoduces each habit in turn, giving examples and a clear explanation about How and Why etc. It's a fairly easy read and I found it fairly easy to take in and adapt to my requirements.

There's also a blog by the author and he's written other books too, although I've not looked at those as yet.

So the first four habits are fairly self explanatory 

  • Collect
  • Process
  • Plan
  • Do
I started by capturing all my ideas and thoughts, anything that came in to my head in my Filofax M2 I then either started doing these tasks, small jobs, what ever it was. But the more I captured the easier it seemed to stay focused. It was working... of course the proof will be if I'm still doing this in say six months time. However, the one thing that did come out of this exercise over a few days was that my long term goals started to emerge... yippee I had identified some things that I would be working on in 2013 as long term ideas. So these got highlighted and I now need to sit down and analyse these in more detail. So that has proved worth while.

The other 'habits' to learn are: 

  • Simple, trusted system
  • Organise
  • Review
  • Simplify
  • Routine
  • Find Your Passion
Leo recommends learning the habits two at a time. He's cleverly ordered them so they get progressively harder to learn, but he devotes more text to the later ones compared to the earlier ones. 
Having bought Zen to Done on my Kindle, one nice touch included at the end of the book is the opportunity to download a pdf version of the book free of charge, I've done this and printed it off to quickly refer to every so often.

Overall I think it's a book worth reading, you might find this work method easier to adapt to. 


  1. Thanks Steve! GTD has always been too hard for me to figure out; this sounds like maybe I could at least know what to do. Whether I actually do it might be another story. I'd love an update from you in six months.

  2. And all this time I thought Steve was perfectly organized. How refreshing to learn otherwise! I've never read or attempted GTD. I've attended several FC workshops but never mastered their system either; too structured for me. I'm definitely going to check this out as it sounds a little more user friendly. Thanks for the info.

  3. Thanks for the interesting article, I immediately bought the book :)