The Little Productivity Tip of a Zen Master

10 replies
A little while back I ran into a friend, Susan O'Connell (Zen Master and Vice President of the San Francisco Zen Center), and she did something old fashioned.

When I said we should have tea sometime, she immediately went to her bag and got out her paper calendar, and suggested we make a date right then.

I said, "No, you're busy, we can set a date later."

She said she tries to only deal with something once.

It's an old-fashioned piece of productivity advice, and something that I've done in the past, but it works.

Deal with something once. Do it now. Then it's off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.

Do most of us do this? We might read a bunch of emails, and say, "I'll reply to those later. I'll decide later." We might see a bill or other piece of mail, and put it aside for later.

We put off small decisions and tasks for later, and they pile up, weighing on us at the back of our minds, pulling on us until we collapse under the weight of "later".

Try dealing with it immediately.

If you open an email, make a decision on it immediately. Schedule the appointment in your calendar, reply, do a small task it requires, or if it takes too long, then you can put it on a to-do list -- but avoid this if possible. David Allen suggests a two-minute rule: if the task can be done in less than two minutes, do it now. I suggest five minutes, even up to 10, as that means you have one less thing to worry about.

At any rate, archive the email once you've dealt with it, or delete it. You're done with that. Move to the next, and repeat.

This applies to everything else: mail, paperwork, phone calls, requests from others. Deal with them immediately, or schedule a date to deal with it later if necessary.

When you are finished using something, put it away immediately and avoid a mess later. This is also how I keep clutter at bay. When you're cooking, wash the items as you go to avoid a huge kitchen mess.

When your child asks for attention, give it to her now.

When your wife starts talking to you, put away the laptop, iPad or mobile device, and talk to her now.

What this means is that you deal with each thing in the moment, and then move to the next. Your mind isn't pulled in a million directions at once.

It's contrary to advice I've given before, because what it sometimes means is that you are often moving at the whim of other people's requests -- what they think is important, not you. And this can be a problem. You don't want to just be reactive. I prefer to do what I think is important.

But a balance can be struck. When you deal with email or other types of communication, do it now. When you decide to work on something important, clear everything else, shut down communication, and just focus on that one important task. Don't bounce around.

I've been doing this, mostly, ever since Susan reminded me of this little productivity trick, and it works beautifully. I'm not perfect -- there are a couple tasks I've been putting off, mostly because I don't have the ability to do them immediately, but for the majority of things I've been pretty good at dealing with things now.

Try it, and practice throughout your day, and let me know how it works for you.


Merlijn
#master #productivity #tip #zen
  • Profile picture of the author CPAPJason
    I've been doing that for a long time, something I learned in the military ages ago.

    Do it right the first time and you are finished with it. Back then it was so we could goof off after what ever needed to be done, lol.

    Now I hate redoing thing with a passion.
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  • Profile picture of the author morninghansel
    Well so far I haven't had problems with doing this act. I think its worth a try for the others as well.
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  • Nice post. I have a saying that represents what you are recommending concerning taking action once in the moment when required. My saying is simply:

    "Do The Next Thing"

    This also works quiet well at keeping a person on task.

    LLS
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  • Profile picture of the author Trey Morgan
    Sometimes you may not be able to deal with something right away, in that case right it down on a sticky note or piece of paper so that you don't forget to do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Vid Yo
    'Zen Master'

    i would love to become a master of zen...in my own right ; )
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    • Profile picture of the author China Newz
      Had a boss back in the day that had a rotating sign on his desk. One of the quotes on the rotating sign was "do it now!" Know the thought behind that and what it feels like to have a bunch of little tasks pile up behind you. Good advice to stay productive.
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      • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
        Originally Posted by China Newz View Post

        Had a boss back in the day that had a rotating sign on his desk. One of the quotes on the rotating sign was "do it now!" Know the thought behind that and what it feels like to have a bunch of little tasks pile up behind you. Good advice to stay productive.
        what was on the other side of the sign?

        all comes to he who waits?
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  • Profile picture of the author depp12
    Originally Posted by Planning To Success View Post

    A little while back I ran into a friend, Susan O'Connell (Zen Master and Vice President of the San Francisco Zen Center), and she did something old fashioned.

    When I said we should have tea sometime, she immediately went to her bag and got out her paper calendar, and suggested we make a date right then.

    I said, "No, you're busy, we can set a date later."

    She said she tries to only deal with something once.

    It's an old-fashioned piece of productivity advice, and something that I've done in the past, but it works.

    Deal with something once. Do it now. Then it's off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.

    Do most of us do this? We might read a bunch of emails, and say, "I'll reply to those later. I'll decide later." We might see a bill or other piece of mail, and put it aside for later.

    We put off small decisions and tasks for later, and they pile up, weighing on us at the back of our minds, pulling on us until we collapse under the weight of "later".

    Try dealing with it immediately.

    If you open an email, make a decision on it immediately. Schedule the appointment in your calendar, reply, do a small task it requires, or if it takes too long, then you can put it on a to-do list -- but avoid this if possible. David Allen suggests a two-minute rule: if the task can be done in less than two minutes, do it now. I suggest five minutes, even up to 10, as that means you have one less thing to worry about.

    At any rate, archive the email once you've dealt with it, or delete it. You're done with that. Move to the next, and repeat.

    This applies to everything else: mail, paperwork, phone calls, requests from others. Deal with them immediately, or schedule a date to deal with it later if necessary.

    When you are finished using something, put it away immediately and avoid a mess later. This is also how I keep clutter at bay. When you're cooking, wash the items as you go to avoid a huge kitchen mess.

    When your child asks for attention, give it to her now.

    When your wife starts talking to you, put away the laptop, iPad or mobile device, and talk to her now.

    What this means is that you deal with each thing in the moment, and then move to the next. Your mind isn't pulled in a million directions at once.

    It's contrary to advice I've given before, because what it sometimes means is that you are often moving at the whim of other people's requests -- what they think is important, not you. And this can be a problem. You don't want to just be reactive. I prefer to do what I think is important.

    But a balance can be struck. When you deal with email or other types of communication, do it now. When you decide to work on something important, clear everything else, shut down communication, and just focus on that one important task. Don't bounce around.

    I've been doing this, mostly, ever since Susan reminded me of this little productivity trick, and it works beautifully. I'm not perfect -- there are a couple tasks I've been putting off, mostly because I don't have the ability to do them immediately, but for the majority of things I've been pretty good at dealing with things now.

    Try it, and practice throughout your day, and let me know how it works for you.


    Merlijn
    This post is right here too !! The Little Productivity Tip of a Zen Master : zenhabits
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    • Originally Posted by depp12 View Post

      Thank you for your comment.

      We bought this piece of PLR content a while back, I hadn't checked if this was published before. Actually I didn't plan on doing so either as I liked the content and thought to share it with my fellow warriors.

      As there is no rule against duplicate content in this forum section (Please, correct me if I'm wrong) so what is wrong about willing to start a discussion about a post of someone else that you like?

      I hope this post will bring inspiration to others, as thats the only meaning I had while sharing this content.

      Kind regards to all,

      Merlijn
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      Hans and Merlijn present to you:

      www.planningtosuccess.com

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