The Simple Productivity E-Book Created by Leo Babauta

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Zen To Done eBook cover

This 2015 version of Zen To Done has been given a new look.

Zen To Done is a simple system to get you more organized and productive,
and keep your life saner and less stressed, with a set of habits.
Zen To Done takes some of the best aspects of a few popular productivity systems
(GTD, Stephen Covey and others) and combines them with the mandate of simplicity.
It makes things as simple as possible, and no more.

Buy the Zen To Done (ZTD) system in a handy e-book, with additional material, resources and forms:

Buy ZTD eBook

Formats: The version sold on this site comes in 5 formats: PDF / ePUB / MOBI / Kindle / Mac Platforms. There is also a Kindle version sold on Amazon. The print version sold on Amazon is NOT published by Leo Babauta.

Table of Contents

1 Why ZTD?
2 Overview – What is it?
3 Minimal ZTD – the simpler alternative
4 Forming the 10 Habits
5 Habit 1: Collect
6 Habit 2: Process
7 Habit 3: Plan
8 Habit 4: Do
9 Habit 5: Simple, trusted system
10 Habit 6: Organize
11 Habit 7: Review
12 Habit 8: Simplify
13 Habit 9: Routine
14 Habit 10: Find Your Passion
15 A Day with Zen To Done
17 Resources

What is Zen

“A total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.”
~ Urban Dictionary

What is Zen to Done (ZTD) - The Philosophy

“I had always dabbled in trying to establish some sort of productivity habits, but GTD and everything similar seemed too intensive to realistically implement. ZTD and its simplicity make perfect sense to me.”
~ Christopher

Simply put, ZTD teaches you:

  1. The key habits needed to be productive, organized, and simplified … and no more than that.
  2. How to implement these key habits … tips on forming a habit.
  3. How to organize these habits into a simple system that will keep everything in your life in its place.
  4. How to simplify what you need to do.
  5. Minimal ZTD. Also includes an even simpler version called Minimal ZTD.

Thousands of readers have written to me with comments about how ZTD has changed their lives, made them more organized and less stressed, and has worked better than other productivity systems. It’s definitely worth a try.

“I’d say that the minimalist system is a safe first step. The beauty is, of course, that it needn’t be just a first step: it works as it is and some people don’t need to go any further.”
~ eff

10 Most Helpful Customer Reviews

All the testimonials are excerpts from satisfied customers (who bought Leo's ZTD in either way, including from Amazon)

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 Saperstein

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.
~ J. McDonald

"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.

I found his system much easier to adapt and use with my lifestyle than the GTD system.
~ Anoron

Glad to see a SIMPLE organizational system, one that encourages you to focus on what is important "your passion" and one that helps you to focus on a few important habits at a time, a plan that can actually work. Thanks Leo!

I've read that Mr. Babauta's blog is amazing, but I do not see how it could be better than this book. His writing is straight to the point, his guidance is actionable and simple, and his message is clear and concise.

I love this book, and would buy it again for a friend. I will definitely recommend it to anyone seeking advice on efficiency and peace of mind.
~ Kikki

I rather like this little book and have gone through it twice now. I'm implementing some of its advice and thinking on implementing more. I love the spirit in which it is writen: simplify, simplify, simplify (per Thoreau).

What I like about this "productivity system" is its low-key simplicity. The notion of having as few inboxes and notebooks as possible makes a lot of sense to me, and I'm now using many of the ideas of the "collect" chapter for managing my job. I'm still working on the bits about routines to figure out what works for me in my current job and life.

Most important, this book emphasizes the need to "do." Anyone can buy a notebook and make lists and plans and whatnot, but the problem is more the doing than the planning for so many folk who work for me, as it was for me for a long time.

As you might guess from the rating, though, I have a few issues. First, the booklet waits until rather late -- chapter 9 or 10, perhaps? -- to introduce the issue of "life goals." It seems to me that none of this tome makes sense unless some time has been taken to develop those. Second -- and perhaps this was done in the interests of brevity -- each chapter just seems a few paragraphs incomplete to me, lacking in detail, support, evidence, validation. There are also a few glaring typos and enough infelicitous sentences to make this English teacher cringe.

At a lesser matter, this writer seems to make a lot of assumptions on the part of his reader: that we know about GTD, for example, or about a few other web-based productivity systems.

That said, I'd recommend this book to people who are interested in improving their time management. There are a lot of useful suggestions here worth taking up.
~ J. Marlin

What is ZTD?

You could call it: a very simple time management system. But it's actually much more. The book is very short, but it's distilled stuff. After re-reading it the third time, I'm still having aha moments!

Why would you want to read this book?

If you've tried GTD, and it didn't stick, and you want something that WORKS. or
If you want a simple time management system, that is quick and easy to implement. or
If you want a few excellent, and insightful tips for improving your current system.

I've been using GTD for several years now. I kept falling off. ZTD is what finally made everything work for me. ZTD sticks.

It changed the way I work. It changed the way I organize myself. And, I'm just starting to discover the implications and ramifications it has on many more areas of my life, not just work.


Zen To Done (ZTD) is much EASIER TO IMPLEMENT that gtd. Its not about trying to get all your possible projects organized and creating a complex system that you end up feeling overwhelmed by. IT'S SIMPLE. It's about FOCUSING on the most important goals and tasks.

And, probably most important of all, ZTD is FOCUSED ON DOING.

So, if you want to start getting things done, then get ZEN TO DONE.
~ Lucian Motoc

I appreciate the way the author combined and condensed the best and most useful components of several different time management systems (GTD, 7 Habits, etc.) into one easy-to-read, easy-to-implement paradigm. A lot of time-management systems have you spend so much time reading, organizing and planning that you loose any efficiency you might have gained by implementing the system. Leo cuts to the chase, provides you with the most beneficial elements of each system, and encourages you to implement those elements that are particularly helpful for you. I found the information in Zen to Done very helpful.
~ YogaMomOf4

I have to say I was a bit sceptical at first when I started this book. I thought that maybe the small volume of data contained in this book meant that the content may be trimmed too much.

I was wrong, and I was very glad I was wrong.

This book gave me a very good understanding of what I did wrong for the last 3 years of using original Getting Things Done. And also what I could do to further improve my experience.

I am now at the 3rd and 4th habit described in Zen To Done, and my everyday system getting better constantly.

A big recommend for everyone using, or wanting to use Getting Things Done.
~ Ian Mors