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David Allen has a near cult following for his Getting Things Done approach to, well, getting things done. I am a sometimes member of that cult, but I keep falling off the GTD wagon. Even David Allen admits to falling off the GTD wagon.

Getting Things Done is deceptively simple when it is merely described. You read it and think to yourself "I can do that!" But in reality, GTD demands the dedication of a monk to really make it work. Minutes to learn, a lifetime to master, so to speak.

Along comes Leo Babauta with "Zen To Done" which he freely and accurately describes as an adaptation of GTD - and it is a well-done adaptation.

"Zen To Done" (ZTD) offers a simplification of Allen's Gettiing Things Done. As Babauta describes it: "a set of 10 habits that will help you get organized, simplify your life, get things under control and actually get things done".

Conceptually ZTD appears simpler to implement than GTD with fewer nuances. Babauta distinguishes ZTD from GTD on a number of issues. He actually describes these details in an FAQ chapter at the end of the book which is quite helpful in comprehending ZTD.

With ZTD, you don't have to change a lot of habits at once, which GTD requires. ZTD also is more oriented to simplicity; it is not as all-encompassing as GTD. ZTD day imposes more of a structure on your day than GTD, which is actually helpful for people like me who find choosing between priorities sometimes difficult.

It is fair to see ZTD as GTD Lite, which is not to infer that Babauta has infringed on Allen or Covey or the others whose ideas he incorporates. All of them, matter of fact, have built on the shoulders of others.

Overall, "Zen To Done" is one of the more interesting time management books I've seen lately and I am going to give the ZTD method a rigorous try.

Jerry
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on June 24, 2010
2014 update:
in 2012, the wonderful author Geoffrey Elliott fixed this problem and provided an updated Kindle version, including working links to all the missing forms, to me. From what I read here, the Kindle version works great now. And, yes, I enjoyed this book very much; plus: the handy forms! I should have mentioned that. Zen to Done was a very enjoyable and helpful book to me.

2010 review (Kindle version was missing content back then; now repaired)
I wish I had purchased the eBook directly from the author's website. Instead, I paid full price to get a Kindle ebook (which I read on my computer) that has NO links to the promised extensive references, and NO way to find the blank forms he promised. For the same price, elsewhere, I could have had the whole deal. I wish a disclaimer was put on this Kindle site, explaining that you are getting a seriously truncated version of this book. If you are thinking of purchasing this version, think twice. I suggest that you opt for the paper book OR the full-service ebook the author sells elsewhere.
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"Zen To Done" by Leo Babauta is a simple productivity system based on the principles taught by David Allen in his popular "Getting Things Done" combined with some other strategies the author found useful. The book came about from the author's website, Zen Habits, and I strongly recommend you check out the website to learn more about both the author and his Zen To Done strategies.

So why "Zen To Done" when the author admits that Allen's GTD is already a great system? It's because sometimes putting GTD into practice is difficult for some people. Therefore, "Zen To Done" is an adaptation of the GTD principles that simplifies them and helps implement the strategies, or habits, at a slower pace. In fact, Babuata says you should work at implementing the 10 habits he shares in "Zen To Done" over a year's time, not all at once. That is one of the difficulties he describes with GTD, that people have trouble with a bunch of habit changes all at once. He also stresses a bit more on doing than he believes GTD does. That and he tried to simplify things to make it easier. So, in a nutshell, "Zen To Done" is a set of ten habits that will help you get organized, simplify your life, get things under control, and actually get things done.

These habits are: 1. Collect. 2. Process. 3. Plan. 4. Do. 5. Simple Trusted System. 6. Organize. 7. Review. 8. Simplify. 9. Routine. 10. Find your passion. The author also shares that implementing ten new habits can be overwhelming and too complicated, so for those that want the simplest system possible, the minimalist version of "Zen To Done" is doing the first four habits: collect, process, plan, and do. With just these four, you can greatly improve your productivity and lesson stress.

The author includes personal examples and writes in a very easy to follow along style. He also answers some common questions, presents a sample day using the system, and provides some resources and sample forms.

The downside of this book is that it is self-published and could have used a bit more editing before the finished product. I'm all for self-publishing, but a couple things that referenced articles that were most likely from the blog were not relevant to the book, and should not have been included. You sit and wonder where? So some editing would make this little book much better. With that said, there are still some great ideas here.

This is a simple read with some powerful strategies for productivity and organization. It is well worth the short time it takes to read if you are looking for ways to better get control of your life, and don't mind overlooking some of the self-published/taken from blog issues I mentioned. If you are already familiar with Allen's GTD, but want an easier version, this may be just for you. If not familiar with GTD, this is a good introduction, and for some, may be all they need. Others may want to then read more by getting Allen's books. I recommend it to anyone wanting to get a better handle on their time and commitments and to be in better control of their life. Good little book with a simple system.

Reviewed by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of the "Tough Guy Wisdom" series.
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on October 31, 2008
I like this book and the concepts within. I've read or read about all the hot time management and self improvement books. I've always wanted to read them all and distill their simple basics into one action plan. Now I don't have to make the effort. "Zen to Done" has done it for me. I'm implementing one habit at a time, as recommended. I'm even starting a group with my employees to read the book and each of us will tackle our own habit and report back progress and recommendations each subsequent week. The key to this book is flexibility and simplicity. You don't have to move a mountain all at once. One hand full of dirt and rock at a time will do it too. I recommend this book.
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on October 11, 2009
I appreciated the concepts that Leo expressed in this book. It is way to easy to allow others to overload the content of your mind and schedule and reduce your effectiveness and quality of life. Leo leads his readers through a practical approach to reducing the number on inputs in their life and uses personal examples which helps explain many of his concepts. My only complaint is that oftentimes as the reader I felt that the book was constantly rehashing the same points over and over again which lead to a disjointed feel and made me feel at times that Leo was trying to fill pages. All in all, well worth the purchase price and my hat is off to Leo who is pursuing his dream and has successfully launched his own career out of it.
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Whether you are a totally organized person or someone who can't find their to do list, this book has much to offer. Zen To Done was written to help you get your life organized in an efficient way. This leaves more time for rest and relaxation, not to mention feeling a sense of accomplishment.

The author explains how he was very disorganized. He became organized by changing his habits. So this book is made up of a list of habits that you can incorporate into your life.

There are actually two systems and I liked the simpler system. Since I don't work in an office a lot of the tasks just don't exist for me. I have no in box on my desk and generally only have a few MITs (most important tasks) to do each day. I do however keep lists of things to do so this book helped me realize what is really important.

This system will work best for someone who runs a business or works in an office setting. There are also a lot of pointers on how to motivate yourself to start tasks that might at first seem overwhelming. To simplify the tasks even more the author advises you not to multitask. He also emphasizes the importance of not procrastinating.

So if you feel like your to do list keeps growing and you are falling behind this book can help you get ahead. Wouldn't you love to feel peaceful at work knowing everything is under control? This book will help you get there if you give yourself time to learn new habits.

~The Rebecca Review
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on February 25, 2009
As organized as I feel I am, this book gave me new insights into what an organized and simplified life can really be. One can realize through this book that an organized life is not having all our 'stuff' organized into boxes and shelves; it is more about stripping away what we don't really need and having breathing room both physically and mentally. We can still have 'stuff' but in a way that doesn't compound our lives. For anyone, and most especially for those who think they have multi-tasking and organization down to a science or an art, I highly recommend this book. The more you read and re-read, the more you begin to understand.
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on January 16, 2009
The productivity sensation from David Allen called Getting Things Done (GTD) has started a craze and cult-like following. But it takes time to master the art of GTD productivity. David Allen's original book tends to be open to interpretation and can get confusing at times.

Leo Babauta has taken the concept of GTD and simplified it into 10 easy habits called Zen To Done (ZTD). Using the concepts in this book has helped me master the GTD productivity system.

This is a great book for GTD beginners as well as veteran GTD practitioners. I recommend this book to people interested in becoming a more productive and effective person.
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on April 10, 2012
For a long time I was searching for a method to organize my life. I tried GTD but I found it very heavy and complex. ZTD was the answer for me and I recommend for everyone. The book is a little repetitive (I don't know if it was on purpose) but it is great anyway.
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on December 18, 2011
There is a lot I like about how this book simplifies the GTD process. The problem, however, is that the book is self-published, which is not often a problem. But the book needs a good editor. There is a list of five items that contains seven. There are many paragraphs broken up with paragraph returns. Also, there are some things I think the author took directly from his blog where it sounds like there is supposed to be a link to something, but the print book obviously has no links. There is good information about reducing and focusing, but I did have to re-read many parts of the book because the lack of editing made the ideas unclear. Just be aware that the book is not as quick of a read as it appears to look like and be ready to work through some confusion.
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