Article by Todd Duncan
Time is your greatest resource. If you struggle with managing it, you likely have not yet harnessed the power of daily disciplines.
As the biblical book of Proverbs says, “He who neglects discipline despises himself.” The most powerful decision you will ever make for your productivity is the choice to build rhythm and routine around doing what matters most. When you do that, you feel good about yourself and can achieve at a higher level. Being a high performer is the result of your daily disciplines.
Time Management Is a Waste of Time
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 to which we allocate our time. When those events are repeated through daily discipline, our productivity soars, our spirits are enlarged, and we develop unstoppable determination.
3 Keys to Developing Daily Disciplines
Key No. 1: Clarify Your Values
If you don’t know what is important to you, you will spend time doing what is not. When you know what is important and commit to those things as must-dos, you 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, calming you throughout your day. We all need a full grasp of those things that mean the most to us. I suggest we spend at least 15 minutes a day in a quiet state of mind to see how we can discover fulfillment in any of our important value areas.
There is a saying, often attributed to Roy Disney, brother of Walt: “When values are clear, decisions are easy.” Deciding what to do with your time should be easy if you are clear on your values and spend time reviewing them on a daily basis. Knowing your values also helps you frame what not to do, which may be even more critical to your performance. Once your value areas are clear, you can move from behavior to habit.
Key No. 2: Block the Time
Before a habit is formed, you must commit to repeated behavior. To create rhythm and routine is to decide in advance what your day and week will look like and then discipline yourself to live accordingly. The discipline comes from your values and living in accordance with them.
Managing time is not about post-it notes. It’s not scribbled to-do lists. It’s definitely not being connected all day long with unvetted technology. Effective time blocking — and blocking interruptions that mess up those time blocks — 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 nonnegotiables.
For example, I have a Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday morning discipline of riding my bike 50 miles. My wife, Deb, and I have a Sunday night debrief where we get to tell each other what we did well over the previous week and plan accordingly for the upcoming week. Every day between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., I call three decision-makers to connect, add value, and advance relationships.
Key No. 3: Form the Habits
Why aren’t people as productive as they might be? Mostly because they miss the difference between “trying” to be productive and “committing” to being productive. Habits are only formed when the behavior attempted becomes permanent.
Here are some ideas to help you stay focused on forming the habit of honoring your daily disciplines:
• Be proactive: 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, but unless you do something to back up those hopes, little 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 had a manager congratulate them for being busy. The key question is: “Busy doing what?” High-performance people are not busy; they are productive. Rather than multitasking, they master the art of “one-thing thinking.” According to a Harvard Business Review article, multitasking can cut productivity by as much as 40 percent and IQ by 10 points! Moreover, according to a University of California, Irvine, study, it takes 23 minutes to get back on track following an interruption.
• Practice “The Five-Minute Rule”: I learned an amazingly powerful discipline when I was 23 years old. I call it “The Five-Minute Rule.” I was studying high-performance salespeople and was reading an article about an insurance agent who was making more than $1 million a year in sales commissions. He was asked, “What is the best advice you could give any salesperson?” He said, “Spend five minutes every hour evaluating how the last 55 minutes went, and correct.” Once I started using this rule, I was able to identify all the things getting in the way of my productivity. 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. Within a year, I had increased my income by more than 400 percent.
Whether you are doing business, living life, or both, the most important truth is your life will be defined by your daily disciplines. The choices you make, the impact you have, and the results you achieve — your entire destiny — it’s all in your disciplines.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Todd Duncan is a sales entrepreneur and game-changing speaker with more than 5 million students around the globe whom he has mentored and taught in life, time, and sales mastery. He is the author of 17 books, including The New York Times best-sellers Time Traps: Proven Strategies for Swamped Sales People and High Trust Selling: Make More Money in Less Time With Less Stress. Todd has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Sydney Morning Herald, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Seattle Times, Entrepreneur, SUCCESS, FOX, and CNN, among other media publications.