Zen To Done (ZTD): The Ultimate Simple Productivity System

June 26th, 2008

NOTE: This article has been uncopyrighted by the original author at http://zenhabits.net/ and appears in its original form at http://zenhabits.net/2007/04/zen-to-done-ztd-the-ultimate-simple-productivity-system/ — David Huett

empty bowlsEvery Monday is Productivity & Organization Day at Zen Habits.

“It’s about the habits and the doing, not the system or the tools.”

I am a huge fan of GTD, as you probably know by now. It’s one of the best productivity systems ever invented. However, it’s not without its flaws, and because of that, I have a new productivity system for you: Zen To Done (ZTD).

Why “Zen To Done”? Well, first off, the blog is called Zen Habits, and “Habits To Done” doesn’t sound cool enough to me. I also thought of “Simple To Done” but the acronym didn’t seem right. Second, ZTD captures the essential spirit of the new system: that of simplicity, of a focus on doing, in the here and now, instead of on planning and on the system.


How to Network

June 24th, 2008

How to Network

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

You’ve probably heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In today’s interconnected society, that rings true more than ever. Your talents, abilities, and experience will never take you anywhere if nobody knows you exist. In order to get what you want out of life, you need to be resourceful, and one of your vastest, richest resources are your fellow human beings.


Overcoming Obstacles

June 23rd, 2008

When we attack our ‘perceived’ problems they often multiply. Changing our perception, and thus the way we react, eliminates the ‘real’ problem.
David Huett

How to Accomplish a Goal

June 23rd, 2008


How to Accomplish a Goal

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

We all have dreams. Whether they are big or small, they have a huge importance on our lives. But we need a plan to get there.


  1. Set a realistic goal. Take a big dream, like “I want to be famous”, and break it down into smaller, more manageable steps, like “I want to star in a science fiction movie”, “I want to go to three auditions a week”, “I want to move to another city” and “I want to save $5000 so I can move.”
  2. Plan ahead. Once you’ve broken down your goal into pieces, write down the steps on a piece of paper to make sure you have everything thought out. One of the worst things that can happen is you’re almost to the point of your goal, but you’re not sure what to do next. Also, give yourself deadlines for each step. Otherwise, you’ll end up procrastinating and never achieving your dream.
  3. Brainstorm ideas. Are there different ways to reach your goal? Write everything down that you can think of in three minutes, no matter how silly or impossible it may seem. For example, you could go to acting school, or maybe you could land a spot in a reality show that would get you started.
  4. Define and describe your goal. Write down when you want to achieve it. Write down the reasons why you want it. Write down what it would feel like after you have achieved it. Figure out exactly what it will take to get it. Be realistic about the time things will take. Many people don’t allow themselves enough time, and give up too soon.
  5. Be positive. Your goal should be written and have positive intent about what you want to bring into your life. This is very important, since the focus of your goal should not be centered around describing a problem you want to eliminate.
  6. Contingency planning Never forget about the problems that might come up on the way and prepare for them. Positive thinking is important but preparedness is better than being shocked or devastated when obstacles appear.
  7. Learn from mistakes. Making mistakes should be a subject at school to teach all our children how to learn from them, instead of trying to avoid them. In the pursuit of a goal you are likely to make some mistakes. Don’t see them as bad or get angry. They are important to correct you and to lead you to success.
  8. Draw on all your past achievements that are relevant to your goal. No matter how small you perceive your achievements, list them anyway. It could be something small such as joining a healthy eating mailing list, to coming home from work late, yet preparing a tasty nutritious meal for your family in under 30 minutes. Once you review your list, you will be amazed at how all those small achievements soon add up, and how much you are really capable of.
  9. Visualize. Close your eyes and imagine yourself accomplishing your goals. Where are you? How did you get there? How do you feel? Do this often. Don’t get swayed easily with the noise and happenings going on outside. Put your attention on what you are trying to achieve. Remember the goal and you will have control over the discomforts and difficulties. A good way to visualize is to practice self hypnosis.
  10. Listen to your internal dialogue. What you are saying inside affects you physically, emotionally and mentally. Is your defense system inside trying to make you stick to your past, limiting beliefs and perceptions? Take over and challenge your inner critics. Monitor any excuses you might be making in relation to your goal. For example, saying ‘I don’t finish work until late and won’t have time to cook!’ You must recognise that if you are truly passionate about your goal, it is up to you to make time.
  11. Make a list of your personal strengths in relation to your goal. For instance, if you have a healthy eating goal you might want to consider strengths such as your level of commitment to eating healthily, or the fact that you enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes or even that you are an excellent cook. The list of personal strengths you can draw up is endless.
  12. Seek help. Find the information, skills and knowledge that you need from other people, books, and audio or video programs. Speed up your learning process by emulating what other successful people have done. You save time and get results faster. Self hypnosis audios are a powerful way to help you get fast, permanent results.
  13. Create benchmarks or milestones. A benchmark is something you can use to measure your progress and know you’re on track. For example, you can write “The first stage of reaching my goal will be done when I’m in the Entertainment section of the newspaper!” or “I’ll know I’ve reached my goal of being famous when I’m a guest on Oprah.”
  14. Make a timeline. Draw a horizontal timeline with a dot at each end. The left end represents now, and the right end represents a point in the future. Specify what you want to happen and when, from now until then.
  15. Be passionate. Striving towards a goal without passion is like a fire which slowly runs out of fuel to burn. Get excited, this will mean that you will love what you are doing. Methodically check your behaviors against impassioned dreams developed as a child. Always share the child within amongst your potential peers. This empowers the Law of Attraction that shapes the dreams of the child into the creative force of the adult.
  16. Revisit, evaluate, and if you need to, adjust your goals. Keep a written record of your goals in a place where you’ll remember to read them every day. They’ll change and adjust over time as your life does, so keep them up-to-date.
  17. Consider new opportunities and options that come your way. Sometimes things have a way of unintentionally leading you exactly where you want to go.
  18. Start working towards your goals today. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to get one step, however small, closer to achieving my goals?”
  19. Persevere. Now that you’ve got the momentum going, don’t let it stop! Some steps may seem less exciting than others, but make sure to stick to your plan until the end!


  • Don’t forget the words of Lao-Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
  • Be true to yourself. Your goal won’t be nearly as sweet if you achieve it by doing things you’re not proud of.
  • Make sure your goal is SMART:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Time-related


  • Things don’t always work out as you had planned. Stick to your goals, but be flexible.
  • Don’t share your goals with people who might tear you down. But, conversely; find someone close to you or a coach who will play the devil’s advocate role – as learning to challenge yourself in new ways can help you to improve and get closer to your goals.
  • Do not be tempted to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. If something doesn’t fit or it doesn’t feel right, try a different approach.
  • Please remember that every coin has two sides. Do not be rigid in accepting or rejecting any advice. Goals such as freedom struggle are not necessarily Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time related. But nevertheless they created history.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Accomplish a Goal. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Facing the Barriers

June 20th, 2008

As I gaze upon the blogosphere and strive to make sense of it all, it occurs to me that many walls exist between where we are and where we dream of going. Some are huge and rather intimidating. I feel like a lone ant taking his first step towards a journey around the world.

Let us begin our journey one small step at time. Surely it is folly to take on that eight year boy with his magnifying glass just yet. Yes, lets not get burned! Barriers abound! They are everywhere affecting us all. Let’s take a close look at a few of them, shall we?

One of the largerst barriers is ignorance. Many of us don’t know where we are going or what stands in our way. We stare into the cold dark night wondering about which way we should go? Without a clear idea, we bang up against barrier after barrier, conquering none.

David Huett

Above All Else, Know Thyself

June 16th, 2008

Human beings are, no doubt, the most important and complex components that make up the Internet. Perhaps, you don’t think of yourself as a component of the Internet, but without you and others the Internet simply would not exist.

We are the power that drives the Internet for better or for worse. Yet, unfortunately, the thing most of us understand less than the Internet is ourselves! We tend to take ourselves for granted, and blindly repeat habits day after day with little thought given to the effect on our lives. We are creatures of habit.

If we intend to play a significant role and have a positive impact on the world, then we must above everything else understand ourselves! It is not enough to merely understand the tools at our disposal. Tools are useless without the hand that wields them.

We might begin by examining our habits of thought. We are all biased in the way we think. There is nothing wrong with that for so long as such a bias adequately serves the needs ourselves and our surroundings. Everyone and everything should benefit when our thoughts invoke action.

We are not born with a user manual on being human. We must learn from trial and error, gain knowledge from our failures. We must fall to learn how to walk. In most cases, if we aren’t failing, we simply aren’t learning anything! To know joy, one must know pain. You can’t have light without darkness, no up-side without a down-side, understanding without confusion. Everything has its complimentary opposite. We must embrace both with gratitude, if we are to grow.

Since thought is the most important force that drives us, perhaps understanding our bias is a good start. Here’s a suggested link to start with:

Wikipedia: List of cognitive biases

I have done my part, now its your turn. Please, feel free to suggest your own related links as comments.

David Huett