Keep a Sense of Perspective With ZTD

Nice path © Erik Back 2011

I have started to implement ZTD to become more productive. Being productive has some advantages: Less stress, peace of mind and it keeps me motivated.

ZTD is short for Zen To Done and it is a simplification of the GTD concept (Getting Things Done). ZTD is a work and life management system based on habits.

Day 2 with ZTD

Habits take time to make and I have decided to spend one month on each of the 10 steps in ZTD.

I have set up my iPhone to handle my captures and at the end of the day I transfer my captures to a to-do list. I use the simple Notes app for iPhone and the All-Done app.

I like to keep things simple and I immediately felt the effect of this exercise. While transferring my notes I could see a simple to-do list form in groups, each with a sub-list of to-dos.

All-Done neatly organised my to-dos and I got an instant sense of perspective. I felt motivated and wanted to start doing some of the tasks right away.

Today I have more peace of mind.

Are You Conscious About Your Habits?

As usual I was up at 6.26 and drinking my glass of water. While eating my breakfast it was snowing in the dark outside my window. I like the snow; it makes me feel peaceful. Everything becomes quiet and stress-less. My mind started to think about my perception and consciousness and I decided to take a look at YouTube to explore what other people say about consciousness.

I found this program made by BBC, “BBC Horizon – The Secret You”, that attempts to measure consciousness. The program discovers that you get your sense of self-recognition at the age of 18 – 24 months. This is the age where you become aware that you exist. It turns out that only humans, chimpanzees and orangutans have the ability to recognise them-selves and to be aware of their own existence.

Apparently the sense of “I” is connected to the conscious mind but separated from the body. This means that body and mind are separated in some sense. You will see experiments of this in the program. But the mind and body is interconnected by the subconscious mind and you will see proof that the subconscious mind is aware of what you are going to do six seconds before you are conscious about it.

This is interesting when working with habits because a habit is something you do without thinking about it. This means that a great deal of that habit is turned over to the subconscious part of your brain. You can use your self-consciousness to program your sub consciousness and thereby control you behavioural patterns and perception of the world.

If you would like to study the philosophical aspects then I recommend that you take a look at René Descartes’ theory about dualism – the separation of body and soul. Also have a look at the works of Bruce Lipton, PhD in biology, about the conscious and the subconscious mind.


Keep It Simple – One Habit a Month!

162 - Juggling balls © by MrB-MMX

Today I was up at 6.26 and the habit of getting up early is starting get implemented. I have to keep working on this habit. I have tried to create other habits simultaneously but I failed and I realised it is because you can only create one or two habits at the time. Leo Babauta from ZenHabits suggests that you only focus on one habit for about a month and then you can start creating another habit. [6 Rules for Dealing With Habits vs. Tasks]

When I start I project I always get over-excited and I want to do everything at once. But a good and healthy habit takes time and it is worth waiting for. A habit can take as much as 8 months to qualify as a habit. That means you have to keep focus on this habit for 8 months before it becomes something you just do without thinking about it. That is why you don’t want to create more than one habit at the time.

I failed when I tried to add a new habit every week except from two habits: Getting up early and sitting and drinking a glass of water. I could manage these two habits at the same time because they are closely related and have simple rules.

In an article on Pick The Brain by Scott Young [Tips for Breaking Bad Habits and Developing Good Habits] he suggests that you keep the rules of the habit simple or you will fail. As he puts it: “Simple rules create habits, complex rules create headaches.”

I did exactly what he says I shouldn’t do; I wanted to exercise at least 30 minutes every day but it became hard for me to do because the rules were too complicated. I defined and scheduled different kinds of exercise that had to be done on specific hours on specific days. I managed to do this for almost two weeks and then I lost the desire to do the exercise. It became something I had to do but didn’t feel like doing.

According to Stephen Covey a habit consists of knowledge, skills and desire. If you don’t have all of them you will fail. I only had two and I failed. I failed because I didn’t keep it simple.

Reaching for Help Is a Good Habit

Help! © by Dimitri N.

Kafka’s universe is starting to make more sense but the chaos is still there. Weekend is over and a new week has started with responsibilities that force me into some of my stabilising routines and habits. I was up at 5.30 today – although I usually aim at 6.28. But sometimes I have a client early in the morning.

I sat in quietude and let my mind wander – that is a good habit and a good start on the day.

The chaos inside me does not invite to carry out my habits because chaos is the opposite of habits. Habits are the routines that you repeat again and again to maintain inner peace. Chaos is not a routine and chaos does not stabilise; chaos is an inner earthquake that turns your brain upside down and confuses your brain cells to believe that they all need exercise at the same time.

My appeal for calm is useless; the only thing I can do is wait for my mind to calm down by itself. Sometimes the mind needs chaos because from chaos something new always develops. In times of change it is important to go with that change or you risk getting stuck in the past and your good habits will turn into bad habits. Thus, chaos is good although it doesn’t always feel good.

My brain cells all had their own seat and like in the cinema all the seats are numbered, but now someone has switched all the seats and it feels like my brain cells know what seat they are looking for but just can’t seem to find it. My head is dominated by confusion, but not by panic.

In situations like this you have to hold on to some of your habits to keep your foundation from falling apart. Some of it is crumbling but not all of it. Find the stable parts of your foundation and start building a new one as soon as your mind and brain cells starts to regroup and find order.

I use people in my network to support my foundation; people that already have a solid foundation that can hold my crumbling foundation are ready to help out. You should never be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. People around you also have a need to help you. Reaching out for help is a good habit.

Take Exercise Step by Step

Hard snow #7 © by angelocesare

My exercise habit is troubling me. I’m an active person and I have always loved playing sports and doing exercise, but for some reason it is difficult to implement at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for people who never do exercise and don’t like doing it.

Anyway, I’m sure it is possible to get there if I do it right. Things take time and just like getting up and becoming an early riser I will have to set myself a goal an gradually work my way to that goal.

The first week of exercise went well but the difficulties began when I had a full day of work and other appointments. There is just not time enough to implement an extra 30 minutes of training, at least not right now. I have to slowly adapt to a new lifestyle and new habits and habits can take up to eight months to form.

I do want to do exercise and I have a desire to do exercise; but I have to be honest – I don’t feel the desire for running five kilometres at 6.28 in the morning when the moon is still up and white frost covers everything. It takes a lot of self-discipline to get out under those conditions!

Make a plan

To get exercise every day you have to make a plan:

1. Find a goal and write it down. (E.g. exercise at least 30 minutes every day)

2. Set a deadline for your goal. (E.g. by 1st of June)

3. Make a schedule for each day of the week that shows what kind of exercise you would like to do. (E.g. Monday – swimming; Tuesday – fitness; Wednesday – swimming; Thursday – yoga; Friday – running; Saturday – surprise; Sunday – running)

4. Plan every day step by step. (E.g. join a sports club and attend training twice a week; then start running 10 to 15 minutes; then go to a fitness centre; then make a small workout plan starting with a few push-ups etc.)

The trick is to add a little extra when you feel ready for it. I have learned that you cannot do it all at once. It takes time to implement good habits. You know what they are saying: Good things are worth waiting for!


If you hate to work out then read this article at Summer Tomato: [How to Start Working Out When you Don’t Like to Exercise]