4 Zen Habits Help You Get More Done

Small-business owners can successfully balance work and life by practicing these four Zen habits.
Forbes Contributor: Makers, Inventors, Small Business, Forbes
December 01, 2011

Running a small company is not much different from running a big company. The difference is you have fewer people to help you get the job done. You are crazy busy and trying to do more than one human should try to do.

Leo Babauta, author of the Zen Habits blog, encourages simple living. Small-business owners can successfully balance work and life with four lessons out of hundreds on the blog.

1. Prioritize tasks

State the three most important things that you want to get done each day. Drop the long list—you probably won’t get it done by the end of the day, anyway. A simple list of three things can be empowering. Pick tasks that will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something when they’re done. Babauta writes more about the list in “Purpose Your Day: Most Important Task.”

2. Keep your e-mail inbox empty

I can hear you saying “Ha!” This can be a huge challenge if you live in your inbox. If the messages just keep piling up, what should you do? Creating folders, filters and labels haven’t worked for me. Babauta’s method is based on the Getting Things Done (GTD) system. To be more efficient and get your e-mail life under control, follow these few simple steps from “Email Zen: Clear Out Your Inbox.”

The biggest tip is to avoid your e-mail first thing in the morning. It is a black hole that will suck you in and consume your most productive time.

3 Single-task

Drop the multi-tasking, do-it-all-at-the-same-time mentality. I know this is counter to what many top gurus say you should do to get more done. This is not just a Zen Habits tip. Recent research shows single-tasking gets more done, more completely and more professionally.

A study reported by the BBC claims that workers addicted to e-mail and phone calls suffer an IQ drop worse than marijuana users do. In “How and Why to Stop Multitasking” in the Harvard Business Review author Peter Bregman cites the study, which showed that “infomania is worse than marijuana.”

4. Limit your media consumption

Limit your media consumption. This last one has helped me the most and I learned it 20 years before Leo suggested it. For some people, they absolutely refuse to do this, but you may have seen the bumper sticker: Kill Your Television. It’s a good idea, but the Internet media stream may have already surpassed it. Reduce or eliminate your media consumption for a week. Leo recommends a Media Fast.

Now, to be fair, not all of Leo’s ideas will work. They don’t for me and they won’t for you. Some will seem insane to try or consider, but many of his ideas are just what a hyper-busy business owner needs to get more done with less stress. I don’t read Leo’s blog regularly, but I’m always thankful when I do. As you head into the New Year, chockfull of lots of new goals, ambitions, and resolutions, his mantra of a simple life might help you get more done, not less.

Image Credit: MinimalistPhotography101