Lately my wife and I have been looking around at our mountains of “things to do” and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Now we’ve (all of us – you included!) have already discussed a way of tackling the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the goals/tasks on the road to accomplishing your dreams. But what do you do when the list of EVERYTHING that you need to get done in your life starts to add up and overwhelm you? Do you have a system for managing the little things in your life, or do things literally pile up around your house until you have no choice but to do something about it (like, say, move away and leave it all behind)? And how do you fit in everything, managing the stuff that you NEED to get done with the stuff that you absolutely WANT to get done? And keep the bills paid?
I’m not even going to pretend that I have been able to execute perfectly in this regard. Not even close. It’s funny – awhile ago a friend of mine dubbed me “Action Man” – meaning that this person (a very action-oriented person in his own right) perceived me as someone who takes charge and gets things done. And judging from the sheer number of things that I’ve managed to do in my life, I suppose that I have been successful. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I should be able to figure out a way to keep the laundry from escalating to the point where it alters the gravitational pull of my corner of the universe BEFORE I put on my Action Man unitard and head out into the neighborhood.
I’m good at accomplishing the BIG goals, but the little goals tend to fall by the wayside. So what I’m after is a personal productivity method that helps keep the rest of my life manageable while I go after the big dreams. I’ve already developed the vision of what that’d be like – how it would feel to live in a clean, well-organized life, where there’s nothing undone that nags at me for more than a day or two. Can you feel it too?
So over the past week or so I’ve been putting it out there as I talk to people, asking the question: “Hey, how do YOU do it all?” Most people that I ask have a tip or two, but judging by the expressions on people’s faces, I can tell that this is a pervasive problem that not many have solved. Hope arrived, though, with an e-mail that I received a few days ago –
“I’ve been so productive the last week I am actually, no joke, shocking myself.” – Fred Antell
My friend Fred has apparently experienced a Eureka moment in the realm of personal productivity. It comes in the form of an eBook called “Zen to Done”, which costs less than $10 ($9.50 to be exact) and aims, in its own words, to be the Ultimate Simple Productivity System. The system was created by Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net as an answer to the successful-but-overly-complicated GTD (getting things done) system by David Allen. The eBook is a compilation of information on Leo’s blog (I’ve linked to his post on ZTD below) with some added resources, compiled into an easy-to-follow format.
Have I read it yet? No! I’m just sharing my enthusiasm with you, as I feel like it’s possible that I could have climbed to the top of an enormous mountain, with Shangri-La firmly in my sight in the valley below. You CAN read more about the Zen to Done system on the ZenHabits blog to get a sense of whether the system has anything useful for you. As I work through the system, I’ll let you know how it’s going. From the reviews I’ve read (and my friend’s testimonial) I have high hopes. I mean, if personal productivity can be revolutionized with a less-than-$10 investment, what could be better than that?
I definitely encourage you to check out more on ZenHabits.net. Here’s a link for you if you want to buy the book – and when you’ve read it, I encourage you to keep us informed of how the book has helped you in your own quest for a simple personal productivity system. Consider this to be the “pre-review” – because I will definitely keep you posted on how it’s going. I’ll need to change my superhero costume, of course – to cover the little things as well.
Action Man, I do not see a unitard here! Don’t skrimp on us!
The unitard is being cast in some space-age stretchy blend of latex and pleather as we speak!
Very interesting article. Let me know if the Zen to Done system works. For me, having some type of daily structure helps. For instance, I may make a short list the night before of what I would like to accomplish the next day and try to prioritize knowing in advance that I will not finish everything on my list and telling myself that that is okay. Then when tomorrow comes, I pace myself. I may not get all my clothes washed but will do 1-2 loads rather than 3-4. I may dust only one room at a time knowing that it will be there for me to do another day too. I also allow time for some fun things – playing the piano for 1/2 hour, reading a few chapters in a book, watch a movie, and of course tomorrow Shovel Snow (not fun but needs to get down). It’s not necessary to get everything done at once. Then it becomes overwhelming. Take “baby steps” along with Dash – a little bit at a time and don’t forget to stop, take a breath, look at your beautiful son, give a big smile, an most importantly give him a big hug and kiss from his Granny.
Almost forgot, great picture of “little a, and big A!
Love the little “a” on Dash’s suit.