Discipline: Ready? Learn!

I’ve been asked a LOT about how I accomplish so much, organize my time, set priorities, etc. And while there are specific techniques I’ve often discussed (e.g., use a physical planner or calendar, not an electronic one), the subject of discipline is really central to organizing and controlling your life and your work.

Here are some factors to think about:

1. Priority Priority. What system do you use? If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. (Virtually nothing marked “high priority” in my email ever actually is.)

2. Disturbance Insulation. How vulnerable do you allow yourself to be to the phone, email, the doorbell, someone asking you to come out and play? You don’t even have to say “no” if you refuse to listen in the first place.

3. Perfection Rejection. Discipline is about succeeding, not gaining sainthood. Finish the article, conclude the speech outline, send the introductory letter, network with strangers—stop telling yourself that you’re unprepared, not up to it, “blocked,” or having delusions.

4. Procrastination Cessation. There will not be a “better time,” there isn’t something missing that you desperately need, no one requires you to be momentarily ready to leave for Madagascar. Ask yourself if you would accept the excuses from someone who owes YOU work.

5. Rebouncefullness. So something didn’t work, who cares? An alternative was not as effective as planned, or even outright failed. The objective is still there, Find another way. If defeat disables you, you’re not going to live a very fulfilling life.

6. Personal Mastery. Don’t worry about anyone else’s performance, worry about your own. Don’t be distracted or discombobulated because someone claims it was easy for them, or they’ve already done it, or they think they’ve hit a triple, when in reality, they were born on third base. (I’ve often maintained that most professional conventions, especially those in the speaking and consulting professions, are opportunities for colleagues to come together and lie to each other about how well they’re doing.)

7. Time Proportionality. I told a coaching client not long ago to stop spending 30 percent of her time on 10 percent of her business. (That’s why I earn the big bucks.) Be careful about your ROTI: Return On Time Investment. Discipline requires the time to apply these factors to the right needs.

8. Low Tolerance for Suffering Fools Gladly. If someone is deficient, remiss, or otherwise clueless who must provide you with help, coach them, fire them, or require that they watch “So You Think You Can Dance” seasons one and two without letup. That will teach them. A Detroit police sergeant told me once that the told recruits, “Ready, learn!” He knew what he had to do, and expected the proper support.

Okay, get with the program.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “Discipline: Ready? Learn!

  1. Amen! And many more Amens! Oops, is that too religious for this group? Oh well, coming from an agnostic, perhaps it’ll be accepted.

    Alan, your words are to live by … I get into trouble when I violate those rules … and I’m finding myself more resentful of being with people who only want to take from me. My time now is too short to tolerate that anymore.

    Thanks for the wakeup call again.

  2. People who distract you without any regard for YOUR time or YOUR objectives are “priority parasites.”

    Example: Someone approaches me and says they have a question or comment. I say, “I only have a minute.” They say okay, and then just keep talking, completely ignoring my time frames. That’s a parasite.

  3. I was freaking out the other day because I finished everything I had “planned” to accomplish before noon, and so I didn’t know what to do with myself for the rest of the day. I had no idea that I was gong to get so much done so fast.

    Using some of Alan’s wisdom on time management, I fired off eight e-mails (on completely different topics and recipients) without even opening an e-mail program (like Outlook). I wrote all the e-mails at once in Word, so not to get distracted by the other e-mails in my inbox. It worked like better than I expected, leaving me lots more time to get everything else done.

  4. Curse you sir and your common sense! Speaking of which, I need to follow these guidelines, especially numbers 1 through 8.

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