Leo Babauta’s A Mind Like Water

In life it’s often difficult to find authenticity, the true self within ourselves. Barbara De Angelis, Ph. D, writer, researcher and relationship expert summarizes this universal timeless struggle when she writes, “We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.” Which in of itself is the utter simplicity of being yourself having the clarity of the vision to see deep within who you are and what you are meant to be and do with your life.

On the surface, writer Leo Babauta is an ordinary man of ordinary means who lives a life of utter simplicity in Guam with his wife and 6 children, yet its this very life of integrity and utter deep introspection that has produced a profound change in himself, creating a digital ripple effect upon the waves of the Internet that has inspired others to follow his lead. . The fascinating aspect of Leo’s life is that he just isn’t another writer, but a man who actually upholds the standards and the paradigms he teaches through his web site Zen Habits. He is authentic.

Babauta briefly spoke with me about how David Allen’s Getting Things Done inspired him to create his own personal life productivity management system Zen To Done (ZTD)

Why do you think that GTD has been so successful and popular?

Leo Babauta: GTD has been such a success because it does several things extremely well. First, it teaches quick in box processing, which is so crucial during these
days of email and an influx of information in many different in boxes. Second, it is a comprehensive system for handling everything in your life, and making
sure things don’t slip between the cracks. The combination of these two things (among others) really makes a big difference for most people — so much so
that it’s almost a revolutionary system for some of us.

What is GTD’s limitations? How does your ZTD differ from GTD and how is it similar?

Leo Babauta: There are three basic limitations to GTD, and for some of us they are
major: first, the system takes a lot of time to maintain, and sometimes that is enough that people will stop using GTD for a little while. Second, while GTD has a higher level of operation, for the most part it focuses on runway- level tasks (all the stuff you need to do right now), rather than higher
levels like goals and dreams. That means that you are often focused on what you need to do right now rather than what you really should be doing. Third, GTD is really a series of habit changes that are adopted all at once. For many people, habit changes are difficult and in my experience it’s better to focus on one at a time.

So I created Zen To Done (ZTD) to address these limitations. Again, I love GTD, but I needed some modifications in my system. So my system focuses on simplicity — just a few key habits to adopt and a few simple tools. It also focuses on the important things you should do, and eliminates everything else
if possible — so you can focus on high-impact tasks and projects and not get overwhelmed or distracted.
And it asks you to adopt these habits one at a time, so you are more likely to stick with them.

How can people best implement ZTD for maximum effectiveness?

Leo Babauta: One habit at a time. Choose the habit that will make the biggest difference right away, and focus on that for 30 days. If you are really focused on being consistent with that habit, you will create a habit you can stick with for a long time. Then, after that habit has become ingrained, work on a second habit, and so on.

Why did you invent ZTD ?

Leo Babauta: Because I needed a way to focus on what’s really important, while adopting some of the great techniques of GTD and other systems. I wanted a system that was simple, and that I would stick with for a long time. I just combined a lot of great principles into a system that works for me, and allowed others to adapt it to their needs.

Leo Babauta has recently published his productivity system into a simple ebook entitled Zen To Done: The Ulitmatte Simple Productivity System that you can purchase if interested.

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