Friday, March 28, 2008

Spotlight on Zenhabits

"Rock Sculpture" courtesy of scardion

I’d like to welcome you to the first of a new feature here at the Systems-Overload Blog, that I’m calling “Spotlight on the Web”. I plan to periodically introduce websites that I find helpful, useful, or just plain interesting. When I first thought about doing this feature, it didn’t take me long to realize that my first spotlight had to be Zenhabits. With a subscribed reader count of over 48,000, author Leo Babauta has definitely found an audience of people that paying attention to what he says.

"Yin and Yang" courtesy of CJLUC

I first stumbled upon Zenhabits in the Summer of 2007, while looking for information on GTD (Getting Things Done). I found a lot of useful information and noticed all the other content that he had written about. I’ve been returning there often ever since. Leo has a style that is clear and easy to understand. A lot of what he writes could be considered common sense, but it has been my experience that “common sense” is more often than not, not all that “common”. Simplicity and minimalism are at his core and he always tries to break things down to their basest and simplest elements. While I’m not the minimalist that he is, this is a trait that I could relate to.

Leo is the father of six kids. While he might not blatantly write about it in every post, if you look deep enough, you see his parenting experiences shining through his posts. Here some of his parenting posts that you might want to check out.

Some of Zenhabits more popular posts by category include: productivity and organization, family and finance, simplicity, happiness, health, and motivation. Here are a couple of popular posts that he has done about goals…

As the title indicates, Zenhabits is a lot about habits. Leo has been successful at making a lot of changes in his life the last few years which he has been able to incorporate into his writing. Leo had done some monthly challenges in the blog, where readers were challenged to change a habit for a month. This has since spilled over to the Zenhabits forum where readers can join and chart and discuss the progress that they have made in their monthly challenges.

Zenhabits does occasionally have guest posts, in fact Leo has written a lot of guest posts for other sites himself. It is nice that he allows others this opportunity to other bloggers, it adds some newness to the site, while he hasn’t let the guest posters take over, like at some other sites. In some cases the bloggers aren’t well known yet, so it gives them a wider audience for their writing. There have been some excellent guest posts as a result. Zenhabits is still basically a one-man show. Leo is also very accessible, often answering questions in the comments to his posts.

Leo decided to “uncopyright” his material. Where many other people are protective of “their ideas” and writing, Leo is encouraging other to make his material their own. He would like to receive credit for what he has done and of course donations would be accepted (should you decide to do so). By encouraging others to make his material their own, he is allowing his writing to take on a whole new life of its own. People can take his ideas and run with them in directions that might not have been even considered by Leo, you, or I. This policy has generated a lot of buzz, in fact there were 164 comments that last time I looked at the article.

In addition to the monthly challenges there is a whole host of topics discussed in the forum. He was a big force behind last year’s Blog Action Day, and promoted it heavily on his site. I look forward to hearing more about the Blog Action Day for 2008.

In January Leo was able to quit his day job and focus on Zenhabits, Writetodone, and writing for the first installment of his book deal. It is encouraging to see that someone could create a blog and in the course of a year to make enough from the blog that they can really become a professional blogger. He has written so many wonderful articles over the past year. I look forward to seeing what the second year brings.

If you haven’t checked out Zenhabits yet, then I suggest that you give it a look. If you have, what are some of your favorite posts? What is it that you like about Zenhabits? If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • Using wikis for the net impaired
  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next “Spotlight on the Web”

You might also like to check out the interview that I did with Leo.
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