Personal Productivity

9 Zen Tips for Awesome Task Management

Zen master's awesome 9 tips for task managmenet
wrote this on June 13, 2011 / 4 comments

A famous Shunryu Suzuki quote says the following about Zen:

“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”

Zen helps us get our mind aligned with our bodies. It helps us reach a point in which we see the entire picture, not only our point of view…. It removes Background noise. Yes, you know what I’m talking about – background noise is a major issue in task management. It prevents us from concentrating and it pulls us one step closer to the “I’ll do it tomorrow” zone.

Background noise is that “important meeting” in the middle of the day when everyone is working. The internet and social media, in particular, are great examples of how you can spend hours running away from your to do list. A phone call you need to make just as you are about to sit on the chair and work. The list goes on.

I’ve always spent time and effort to reduce background noises, it was draining. I decided to put an end to this attack and was surprised to find out how many people around me suffered from the same problems and none of them really offered me any solution besides Ritalin.

In 2004, I read my first “Zen book” written by Miyamoto Musashi, the famous samurai warrior whose combat prowess was legendary. His guidance held simple universal truths that rang so clearly in my head that I’ve started applying them immediately. Through his book The Book of Five Rings, I learned about Zen and how to eliminate background noises – I became a Zen Task Manager in my mind.

The following 9 task management tips are only suggestions. They are not guaranties for absolute background noise reduction success… that part is up to you and your determination!

#1 Write all your tasks down: Unburden your mind.

Before you start the week, make a list of targets that you want to accomplish. During the week, every night before you go to sleep, invest 5-10 minutes in scheduling your tasks for the next day. Use a task management application
that will provide you with a simple and efficient task management workspace. It will help deploy your tasks online and will make them available everywhere.

#2 Reduce unnecessary human interaction during work: Be a monk.

A lot of productive and creative figures throughout history like Einstein and Goethe believed that they must seclude themselves from the world to really accomplish greatness, (which makes sense, you need it to be quiet to focus…and people do tend to distract you during work).

#3 Interact with the world around you: Get inspired /absorb creativity.

Didn’t I just write the opposite? Well, it looks like talking to people also gives you motivation, inspiration and perspective… all of which are imperative in being focused and productive.

#4 Prioritize tasks and goals: Structure the flow.

there’s a method called GTD (Getting Things done) By a Guy named David Allen that is definitely worth checking. It teaches you how to structure lists out of your to-do items and prioritizing them in a fashion that make sense. Creating a workflow that actually helps you to work more efficiently requires planning and that’s exactly what David’s technique is all about!

#5 Procrastination is manageable: Be committed.

There are several methods to fight Procrastination and I won’t go into details, others have done it quite well. One thing I would like to add to the mix – fighting Procrastination is a decision! (You are not a victim.) Once you reach the go point and you want to act on it, use every weapon in your arsenal and stay committed. Lack of commitment = you lose!

#6 Go to sleep early, wake up early: Recharge energy.

It sounds quite obvious, doesn’t it? The more I charge a battery the better and longer it functions. Do your tasks while you are energized and you’ll get thing done faster and better! Here is a great blog post by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits about the benefits of waking up early.

#7 Calm means in control: Embrace harmony.

If you like to listen to relaxing music while working and you think that you perform better with a relaxed atmosphere you are probably right. Numerous articles talk about doing tasks in a calm environment – enabling you to finish tasks without the exhaustion that usually comes after you’ve been battling distractions to get things done…. So relax, breathe deeply and task away.

#8 Every task should have a “mission accomplished mark”.

A task, without a definitive end, will discourage you. Zen gurus encourage that you keep yourself balanced by setting a defined line called the “mission accomplished mark”.

#9 Stop thinking, act!

A good way to conquer indecision is to make a choice from your list of “unknowns” and “obscures” and just act. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said the following about action: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”

So, why only 9 Zen tips? Why not make it 10? In one word, asymmetry.

Asymmetry is natural and is the way life is structured around us according to the Zen principal of Fukinsei. That’s why you cannot force balance on asymmetry (and when the post ends in 9 tips you should just accept it). Work with it – it’s a part of the process.

IQTELL grants you the tools and flexibility you need to manage life’s asymmetry in a balanced way, you can start the change now, and start practicing a IQTELL’s Productivity App!

* GTD® is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company. IQTELL is not affiliated with the David Allen Company.

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