In an effort to Keep Smart — which is one of our Core Values here at Rhythm Systems — I recently attended a workshop on "Personal Productivity Essentials" to get some new tips and perspectives from Austin Bristow.
Austin talked a lot about personal discipline, and although "discipline" is a word with some negative connotations, it really should be seen as a process that gives you more freedom—freedom to focus on the things you want to do, freedom to maximize your time, freedom to say "no," etc.
To unpack this a bit, Austin shared three of his 3 Keys to Discipline:
- Self Awareness - It's important to be cognizant of where your time is spent. Austin suggests tracking your time on any given (normal) day to get some objective perspective of where you're actually spending your time. Doing so can help you manage expectations for what you can get done in a given day and identity where you can add focused time on priorities that matter and cut down/out on unproductive time suckers (hello, social media). I personally like his thought of determining your "To-Don't" list this way. I think the key to this...Key...is actually being honest as you track your day!
- Having routines - Austin formalizes his routine through mini-alarms throughout the day to keep him on track. I can't stand the sound of alarms, but I do this similarly in my iCal—I don't just use it for appointments or meetings with other people. I'll block off time specific to time I want to spend on a project, or even time I want to dedicate to thinking about something (i.e. a recurring Think Rhythm or my weekly Keep Smart time). This helps me respect that kind of time (rather than get distracted by every ding of an email) and manage my expectations for what I can get done (well) on a given day/week.
- Forgiving yourself - Austin definitely touches on the art of saying "no" to things, but he also makes room for life happening. Everyone is susceptible to slipping into an unproductive pocket of time here and there, or life events can come up that are worth deviating from your productive routine in order to handle. So similar to if you eat a couple of doughnuts for breakfast rather than your planned yogurt/fruit/whatever, don't let that be an excuse for you whole day/plan to be a wash. Forgive yourself, and get back on track.
I found a lot of parallels between what Austin shared and practices we encourage with our clients, so I encourage you to watch Austin talk more about personal discipline and prioritizing your to-dos and to-don'ts in his TEDxCharlotte presentation, and—while you're at it—learn more about the Accountability programs that our Rhythm Systems Experts can customize for you and your teams here.
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Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images