21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 21 (Discipline Begets Discipline)

We made it! I can barely even remember the first couple of days of this challenge, so I’m glad I’ll be able to go back through these entries and quickly remind myself of what I need to do to start new habits.

And, on a confessional note, I haven’t been doing too well with my original habit of walking the puppy every day. It gets dark early, the weather is bad, I’ve been sick, excuse, excuse, excuse. I guess it’s a good thing I can reread this series!

Enough about that though, let’s move on to the new stuff. Yesterday’s exercise was to pick a couple of quick things from my to-do list and do them. I had a couple of little tasks around the house (primarily laundry and cleaning related) that I kept putting off. It felt nice to just do them! It’s like what Paine said yesterday; it’s nice to free up the mental space that you’re spending on these little menial tasks.

Now, for our last chapter. Paine starts this chapter by reminding us not to get overwhelmed if we still have dozens and dozens of tasks that we still want to complete or if we didn’t have the best track record with this habit. She reminds us to just keep plugging away and to look at the positive benefits that sticking with our habit have brought us. Her habit was to get up early, and her positive benefits were having time to a more meaningful quiet time every morning, finding time to exercise every day, and getting things done before her children wake up, among other benefits. Have any of you found additional benefits that sticking with your habit has brought? When I was more consistent with the puppy walking, I did notice that I felt better after doing that short walk, I spent less time as a lump on the couch in the evenings, and he was a little less spastic at night. Crud. We’ve got to start walking again!

Our final exercise is to make a list of all the improvements and progress that we’ve seen over the last 20 days. Paine reminds us not to dwell on the areas that still need major work but to instead be encouraged by the progress we’ve made.

I want to thank everyone who has followed along with the entire series, especially those who have provided encouragement and feedback. I have a couple of series’ planned for 2014 (another book series like this and one that I’m working to cobble together). I’ll keep the Facebook and Twitter notifications active so anyone who is interested in following along can do so. I’ve also got a box on the right side of the page where those who would rather receive email notifications of new postings can sign up there.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this series, and if anybody has suggestions for content they’d like to see in the new year, please let me know. Happy Thanksgiving, and stay disciplined!

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 20 (Do It Now)

Hmm, I’m sensing a theme in these chapters…

Yesterday’s exercise was to read an article and make a plan on how to stop procrastinating, start planning ahead, and begin getting things done early. My thing that I focused on was my morning routine. I open the library every morning except Fridays, which means I should be at work at 7:25. This isn’t tough considering that we’re up at 5 on weekday mornings, and I don’t have to leave the house until about 6:45-6:50. That should give me plenty of time in the mornings to have quiet time, get dressed, walk the pup (if it’s not raining), and eat a frog, right? Wrong! I very rarely plan ahead, so I’m usually rushing in the mornings to try to make mine and Will’s lunches, figure out what we’re having for breakfast, pick out my clothes for the day, and finish chores that I should’ve finished the night before, like folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher. So usually I’m running around like a crazy person in the mornings, and I leave later than I should, so I drive faster than I’m supposed to, and arrive at work as a frazzled mess! My quiet time usually gets cut short or completely skipped also because that’s a “luxury” that I can’t afford when I’m running behind. Argh! So, I sat down and made a time block schedule of how I’d like for mornings to go. I also modified Flylady’s Before Bed and Morning Routine lists to reflect my needs a little more and give me some guidance on how to be more efficient at night and in the mornings. I’m thankful I have a few days off before I have to test these new routines though! 😉

Today’s chapter again encourages us to do things now. For example, instead of thinking about answering an email and looking at it in your inbox, just do it. Instead of continuously putting off little jobs or writing them down on your to-do list, just do the job and get it done. I am SO guilty of doing this. I’ll say that I need to do something ten or twenty times at least instead of just doing it. I spend more time thinking about getting a task accomplished than it would actually take to accomplish it. As Paine says, most of the time, it only takes a few minutes or less, and then the task is no longer nagging you, taking brain space and energy, and it’s done!

The exercise for today is to pick at least two or three tasks on your list that can be done in less than two minutes and do them right now! (In all honesty, I’m not going to do this right now. It’s almost bedtime for me! But, I promise, I’ll do it in the morning!).

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 19 (Get It Done Early)

Oh man, it seems like the last portion of this book was written just for me! Look at today’s chapter title. If you know me reasonably well at all, then you’ll know that getting things done early (or even on time sometimes) is definitely not a strong point for me. Can’t wait to dive into this one! But first, let’s look at yesterday’s exercise. 

Yesterday we were told to ask ourselves if we’re doing the best that we can with the energy, gifts, talents, and resources that each of us have for whatever season of life that we are in. Honestly, I’m not. I’m in a good season of life right now (newlywed-ish and childless) where I have a good amount of free time, and yet, I’m not spending that time, energy, or talent on working on my goals and dreams. Despite reading this book and writing about it daily, I’m still practicing a lot of the bad habits that inspired me to take on this challenge in the first place. I’m doing better, and as she advised us to do in a prior chapter, I’m celebrating the baby steps that I’m taking, and striving to do a little better each day.
Okay, now onto the chapter that probably speaks to me more than any other chapter has so far! In this chapter, Paine talks about an article that she read that talked about how getting things done early is the key to success (reading the article is one of today’s exercises, so I’ll link to it there). “Get it done now” is a Flylady concept too, plus, it’s something that my mom and husband both try to impress upon me. I’m constantly amazed at how much faster my husband gets chores finished because he’ll just get started whereas I’ll hem and haw and procrastinate until I’ve wasted half the day thinking about how much I don’t want to do something! I guess this goes hand in hand with the “do the hardest things first” chapter also! 
Paine talks about how she’s made a lot of excuses for her tardiness in her life, but almost always it boils down to procrastination, improper prioritization, and a lack of planning ahead. For example, she said that instead of planning to leave 30 minutes before she needed to be out the door, she would wait until 30 minutes before she needed to leave to take her shower, get everyone dressed, gather up whatever they need to take with them, and get everyone out the door. I can definitely relate (Mom and Will, if either of you are reading this, stop laughing at me…)! I hardly ever plan ahead or account for obstacles, so I’m constantly frantic and frenzied. However, Paine says that even though knowing the problem is good, it doesn’t fix anything; we actually have to make changes if we want to experience any benefits. This seems like common sense, but to me, it’s really helpful! 
Today’s exercise is to read the article Paine talked about. It’s called The Secret of Success for a Work-At-Home Mom, but Paine promises that it will encourage people who don’t fall into this category. 
(Side note, she’s right; I just read it, and it does have good, practical tips in it. It’s by the same lady who wrote the Eat the Frog article, so if you enjoyed that one, you’ll like this one. Other side note, I started reading the Eat the Frog book today and wasn’t impressed. It seemed a little over complicated to be a book about simplifying your life). 
The other exercise is to choose an area in which you especially struggle with being behind or running late. Write a simple plan for how you are going to stop procrastinating, start planning ahead, and begin getting things done early. 

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 18 (Embrace Your Own Uniqueness)

Yesterday’s exercise was to evaluate your goals and make sure they are based upon what is best for your family. Since my family right now consists only of my husband, myself, and our puppy, this one was a pretty easy one! The puppy automatically agreed that the goals would be fine for him (ha!), and I have an extremely easygoing husband who just wants me to be happy and accomplish my goals, so I know that they’ll work for him to. Phew. It’s good to have an easy exercise!

As you might have guessed from the title of today’s chapter, it’s about making sure that are happy with yourself. This is such a great reminder and great chapter that I’m going to share it in its entirety and pretend like copyright laws aren’t really a thing. Hey, this is educational use, right? ;-P

Here it is:

“You can spend all of your life trying to measure up to someone else. You can fritter away hours of time wishing you had her hair or her figure or her energy or her gifts.

But you are not her. You are you.

You have unique gifts, talents, and abilities. You can improve upon what God has given you, you can wisely steward what He has given you, but you cannot change who He has created you to be.

So instead of living life wishing you were someone else, embrace your own uniqueness. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t get up when she gets up, or decorate your home like she decorates hers, or fit into the size of jeans she does, or juggle all the activities and responsibilities she does.

Your life and goals are going to look different from others–and that is completely okay.

In fact, if everyone was a carbon copy of each other, wouldn’t life be dull and colorless?”

Good stuff!

Today’s exercise is to ask yourself if you are doing the best you can with the energy, gifts, talents, and resources you have in the season of life that you are in. Paine says that if you are, you can move on without guilt, even if your life and goals look completely different from someone else’s that you know.

Hope everyone stays warm and dry tonight! Brr!!

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Day 17 (Stop Comparing Yourself to Others)

This is the third day in a row that I’ve been really excited about the chapter topic because I feel like it’s really speaking to me! But, before we talk about this one, let’s look at yesterday’s exercise. Paine wanted us to read an article and make a list and action plan for things we procrastinate on. Honestly, I only did the article one because we ended up being busier than I expected today, and I just didn’t do my list…or, you could say that I procrastinated on it! I do have a list of things I’m procrastinating doing (my “eventually” list), so I guess I need to just work on my action plan now. The article had good advice in it, including don’t try to accomplish more than 10 tasks a day. It’s a short read, so take some time to check it out.

In today’s chapter, Paine reminds us that we’re all in different places and stages in life. One of her major takeaways is that you need to do what is best for you in whatever life season you’re in. As Jon Acuff says, “don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” This is a great lesson, but it’s something that I (and maybe some of you) have a lot of trouble remembering and need constantly reinforced, especially when I’m working on my goals. Paine says to consider what your family’s needs are and your own strengths and weaknesses, then choose goals that work for your family, even if they’re almost the exact opposite of what works for someone else.

Today’s exercise is to evaluate your goals and make sure they are based upon what is best for your family and not something you feel you need to do because someone else is doing it or someone else told you that you should do it. Do what works for you!