Becoming More Disciplined

habit-tracker-piece.jpgOn a teleconference today, the attendees and I talked about the need to be more disciplined in order to change one’s time management practices.

I thought about it for a moment and then I had a different thought.

A year ago, I  created a worksheet for each to help me implement a number of new habits.

Essentially, I focused on creating a single new habit, which was to sit down and work through my list of new habits each work-day, before doing anything else.

If I performed the habit in the last 24 hours I would earn a check (or tick) on  the list, and if not, I would  place an “x.”  I had no idea how it would work, but I was shocked to realize that I have been doing the practice for over a year, coming up with a new sheet each month.  I have implemented all the new habits that I have committed myself to, and created a new raft of brand new habits during the year to put in place.

Recently, I switched over to a small spreadsheet on my PDA, and am no longer using paper, but underlying idea remains exactly the same.

As a result of doing this practice, I now have several new practices that have become habits.  When a practice on the sheet has become a habit, I simply remove it.

Question is — Am I more disciplined?

I’m not sure, as “more disciplined” sounds to me like one of those judgements that people make without really understanding what they mean, or how to accomplish them. For example, it’s not helpful to tell someone to “become more disciplined.”

It’s much more helpful to tell them to:

a.  create a tracking sheet for the new habits  they want to implement

b. each morning, before doing anything else, go down the list and track whether or not the habit was implemented in the last 24 hours

c. at the end of each month, create a new sheet

In other words, forget about being disciplined and instead, focus on your sheet each morning and on doing as many items each day.  By the end of the month aim to do almost all of the items each day.  People may believe that you are being more disciplined, but you know that it’s simply been a matter of focusing on one sheet of paper each day.