LEO BABAUTA // ZEN HABITS
I am so excited to have Leo Babauta of the famous simplicity blog Zen Habits with us today for a GSD (get shit done) interview. Leo is a father of six, a best-selling author, and a vegan. Since 2005 Leo has focused his life on changing his habits — he quit smoking, became a runner and ran several marathons and a 50-mile ultramarathon, lost 70 pounds, started his blog Zen Habits, has written several books, and has just launched his latest book Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change on Kickstarter (I ordered my copy today).
And now we find out how the master of simplicity gets shit done:
GSD stands for Get Shit Done — so I have to ask, what is your process/work strategy for getting shit done? For your blog, ebooks, and life in general.
Leo: First figure out what’s most important to spend my time on, and do that first. Overcome resistance by clearing distractions and just focusing on starting — writing one sentence. And have someone who will benefit from the work that I have in mind, so that their benefit from the work is greater than my personal resistance. When I have that, the work just flows.
Do you have a daily routine that you go through on a typical day?
Leo: I wish I had a perfect routine, but all my best laid plans fall apart in the face of resistance. But here’s what typically happens: I wake a little before 6am these days, make some coffee and clear out my email as the pot is brewing (usually just takes a few minutes at this point), then have my cup of coffee as I start on the writing. After the writing, I might allow myself a little more email, then more writing, then I take care of all the little things at the end. Then I spend some time with my family.
What books, websites, posts and other resources have you found helpful or have changed your life?
Leo: When I started Zen Habits in 2007, I was obsessed with GTD by David Allen, and books on mindfulness and simplicity like Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. I also loved Lifehacker and 43 Folders and Get Rich Slowly. Then the Daodejing by Lao Tzu changed my life. These days, I read more for leisure and information — longform articles online and novels.
What about apps?
Leo: I love Google Inbox — makes it so easy to clear the inbox. I’m also loving Slack for working with teams, and I’m a big user of Evernote, Fantastical, Asana, Google Docs, WordPress, 1Password, Instapaper for all longform reading, and Feedly for RSS reading.
I’m sure you get a lot of email — how do you attack your inbox? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
Leo: I make sure a lot of stuff is filtered out that I don’t want to get — I’m ruthless about filters, because otherwise my inbox would be filled with junk. I process 3-4 times a day, to as close to empty as possible. Everything gets a quick reply and/or archive, or if it is a task that will take longer I’ll either turn it into a Reminder in Google Inbox and snooze it, or put it as a task in Asana. Archive everything as I go, and the inbox is clear! I love that.
Are there any parts of your work that you dislike?
Leo: No, I have to say I’m blessed with work that has meaning to me. Even small tasks that might seem meaningless are tied to something more important for me. Answering an email, reading people’s tweets, responding to a forum question … these are ways for me to help people, and to hear what people’s problems are. That’s meaningful, so I never really feel like my time is wasted. I also try to remember to be happy in each moment, no matter what I’m doing.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of Zen Habits?
Leo: I often have to kick my kids off my computer when they’re playing Minecraft and I need to do some work! Also, I’m not as perfect as people seem to think I am — I’m human, and I have my bad days, and distractions, and self-doubt, and failed habits, just like anyone else. The challenge is learning from those things and not taking any of them as personal failures, just as lessons.
Continue reading for the rest of the GSD interview! Continue reading…