If there is one thing you should buy, it is time. Money invested in buying back your time is money well spent. Buy help. Buy expertise. Buy time. By buying time, we free up our schedule for other activities, priorities and people. It also buys thinking time, which is undervalued for strategy. Imagine having time to just sit and think. This is a weird notion for a lot of us: sitting & thinking. What if you took that time to sit, think and reflect on your schedule before you do anything that day? What would that look like? What positive effect would that have on your daily activities and priorities? What it would do is free us from onerous obligations on our time. It would help us to say no more swiftly to extracurricular activities that do not align with our goals. It would help us to be more disciplined in our day and with our time. It allows us to pause and reflect before doing anything. It would help us to strike where we feel our efforts are best spent.
What defeats procrastination the best? Starting. How do you push through a 90 minute writing session? Begin. Keep at it, even when it is grueling. The hardest part about the workout is starting, the anticipating. Once you begin and are into it, it’s all downhill from there. There is a weird anxiety to working out before you get to the gym. You may dread it. You may wish that you didn’t have to go that day. Maybe you want to do anything else besides the gym that day. Still, nothing beats getting up there and getting after it — even when you don’t feel like it.
Hit the gym? I don’t feel like it.
So much of what we do as adults we do despite not feeling like it. It is a common excuse to get out of doing something. Why didn’t you go the gym? I didn’t feel like it. Why did you take the day off? Didn’t feel like it. Why did you skip out on the assignment? I didn’t feel like it. Naturally, this is the opposite of good discipline. You go to the gym despite not feeling like it. You work on your relationships despite not feeling like it. You read the book despite not feeling like it. You travel despite not feeling it. You work extra hours despite not feeling like it. You practice your musical instrument despite not feeling like it. You play through pain despite not feeling like it. It is simply time you invest in the activity you deem worthy, which is essentially discipline.
You can look forward to discipline.
Interestingly, if we do these things enough and build them into muscle memory, even harsh disciplines can become pleasurable. Yes, you can look forward to going to the gym and working out. You can look forward to practicing an instrument. You can look forward to the writing session. You can look forward to studying. You can look forward to the private victory of knowing you did them for the day. Sometimes this is the only reward. I woke up and wrote today. I woke up and hit the gym today. I did the thing I didn’t feel like doing today. Your disciplines are your definitions. They help create who we are.
How am I doing this week?
We do these things enough times and we start to get good. Takes awhile, but we get there. Often, we’re too close to our own efforts to improve, so we do not see the progress we’ve been making. This is why it is essential to gauge it, keep track of it, to score yourself on your roles & goals. How am I doing this week? Where was I? How did I act to those I’m closest to? Naturally, this action enables you to see where you’re lacking in what specific area(s). You may think you’re on the right track with your family, but upon reflection, you’ve been a jerk lately. If you value creation, how actively have you been creating this week? What are your outputs? What have you been concentrating on? What is the work that will truly matter in one year? What will you be most proud of?
Mind what you don’t do.
Remember that discipline is as much about what you don’t do as it is about what you do. There are plenty of things that need none of our time. It is only in our disciplined execution that we’re able to focus and do what we’ve set out to do. Think about your time wasters. What do they look like? Binge-watching Netflix? TV? Weird YouTube videos? Social media? How much of your time do they get? How much of your week do they get? Begin reducing them. Cut back on the entertainment. Use the new-found time to work on your long-term legacy projects, whatever they are to you.
Liberate some time for legacy projects.
Freeing up time to work on legacy projects isn’t easy, especially to start. It is a new habit. In order to make new habits stick, we have to start small. Tiny behavior changes are the key to making the new habits stick around. You don’t magically find 5 hours back in your week. You find one hour and keep it. You invest that one hour in the future: toward growth, toward new skill development, toward improvement. And then you slowly build momentum with your long-term goal.
I’m all outta time.
The number 1 complaint people have is a lack of time. They don’t have time for anything extra to do. If they truly believe this, then they don’t. They’re right. But if you were to dissect their calendar, to truly see what’s on there vs. their actual activities, you’d see a disparity. Maybe even a large disparity. People don’t like having their calendars scrutinized — we’re too focused for this. But it is a great way to find extra time in peoples’ lives. That extra time is there; it is simply buried beneath a sea of meetings, conference calls, emails, social media, and other minor minutia.