If you struggle with managing your greatest resource, time, it is possible that you have not yet harnessed the power and leverage of creating daily disciplines. An ancient Proverb says, “He who neglects discipline despises himself.” The most powerful decision you will ever make in productivity is building rhythm and routine around doing what matters most. When you do that, you feel good about you and achieve at a higher level. Being a high performer is the result of your daily disciplines.
Time Management Is a Waste of Time
Sound crazy? For most people, time management is like raking water: lots of activity; limited results. We are limited not by time, but by how we use the time we have. Time management is life management. Time management is values management. Time management is activity management. You and I will never be clever enough to control our time, but we can choose the events with which to allocate our time. When those events are repeated through daily discipline, our productivity soars and our spirit is enlarged, and we develop unstoppable determination.
3 Keys to Developing Daily Disciplines
Key #1: Clarify your values.
If you don’t know what’s important to you, you will spend time doing what’s not. Ignored priorities will always become more important. To know what is important to you and to commit to those things as part of your “must do’s” is to create the ecosystem for a more effective use of your time.
When your activities are in alignment with what is significant to you, you suddenly know inner peace. High levels of inner peace reduce stress; it calms you throughout your day. We all need to have a full grasp of those things that mean the most to us. I suggest that we should spend at least 15 minutes a day in a quiet state of mind to see how we can discover fulfilment in any of our important value areas.
Key #2: Block the time.
Before a habit is formed, you must commit to repeated behaviour. To create rhythm and routine is to decide in advance what your day and week will look like, and then to discipline yourself to live accordingly with the time allotted. The discipline comes from your values and living in accordance with them.
Managing time is not post-it notes. It’s not scribbled “to-do” checklists. It’s definitely not being “connected” all day long with unvetted technology. Effective time blocking, and then blocking interruptions that mess up the time block, is the key. Time blocks are planned segments of time that help you complete your most important predetermined activities—they are, at their core, disciplines that lead to achievement. They are “non-negotiables.”
Key #3: Form the habits.
Why aren’t people as productive as they might be? Mostly because they miss the connection between “trying” to be productive and “committing” to being productive. There is a difference. Habits are only formed when the behaviour attempted becomes permanent. Here are some ideas to help you stay focused on forming the habit of honouring your daily disciplines:
- Be proactive: The only alternative available is to be reactive. Everyone who moves toward a more productive life does not wait for life to come at them. They go out and make it happen. They know that everything has a proactive solution. You can hope that life will get better for as long as you like. However, unless you do something to back your greatest hopes, not much will change. Change must come from within. Here’s a great question: If you continue on the path you are now on, will your life improve and take you to the level of your dreams? Life will give you what you tolerate and accept!
- Fight multitasking: Multitasking is the fast track to low performance. It gets in the way of your greatness! No one has ever received accolades from a manager congratulating them for being busy. The key question is, “Busy doing what?” High-performance people are not busy; they are productive. They master the art of “one thing thinking.” According to Harvard Business Review, “Multitasking leads to as much as a 40 percent drop in productivity, increased stress and a 10 percent drop in IQ.” UC Irvine says, “People spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before they are interrupted. It takes them on average, 25 minutes to get back to the point they were at before the distraction.”
- Practice “The 5-Minute Rule”: I learned an amazingly powerful discipline when I was 23 years old. I call it “The 5-Minute Rule.” I was studying high-performance sales people and was reading an article about an insurance agent who was making over $1 million a year in sales commissions. He was asked, “What is the best advice you could give any sales person?” He said, “Spend 5 minutes every hour evaluating how the last 55 minutes went, and correct.” I started using this rule. Amazingly, I learned all the things getting in the way of being productive. I learned how to fix and manage interruptions. I learned how to say “no,” which is the most powerful word when it comes to being productive.
Whether you are doing business, life or both, the most important truth is, in the end, your life will be defined by your daily disciplines. The choices you make! The impact you have! The results you achieve! Your destiny is in your disciplines.