The year of 2015, which still has over a month left, has been an amazing one. No new babies or family changes. Work is about the same. What is really exciting is my level of discipline that has developed.
Still a work in progress, but I am definitely on a roll – and want to share with you today some of the things I have witnessed as I have grown this discipline.
Started With Learning to Write Books
How did this discipline start? I was working on writing my first book, and thus, reading online articles and books on how to do it. One of the most common themes was to create a daily habit of writing. Specifically aiming for 1,000 to 2,000 words a day.
And how to measure how many words you wrote? You had to document and journal it. Got me into being better into Google sheets, shortcut keys. Even having hot keys tagged on my screen via sticky notes.
Once In The Habit of a Writing Journal – added More Journals
Once I got into the routine of opening up a google sheet each day to record how much I wrote – I though, heck I can do this for more things I want to grow and improve on.
Next went into morning miracle 999. Not just doing the routine, but writing down in a separate google sheet each part of the routine that I did each day. Reflecting on how I felt, why I missed something, or why something felt better than the previous sessions.
Then has gone into journals for recording my sleep quality, my work productivity (pomodoros), books I’m reading, Chinese learning progress, food I’m eating, and medicine / health. Also relationship building status, and family milestones.
Once I put it into a journal, and make a shortcut key to access it on demand (via google sheets offline, when I’m on the road) – I can see the results.
Charting The Data
What got really interesting was once I had a few months of data on a specific thing I was measuring, I could chart it. This would be things like how many words I write on the Y axis and the X axis as days.
Seeing a chart of my results over time motivated me. I would look at lows in the chart, and then look back at the spreadsheet and highlight what was happening in my life during those phases. Why was I lower there than other days?
Going back into the “raw data” I would look at the notes field. How was I feeling at that time? Any interruptions or special events. I sometimes even edit it and add more notes when I’m looking back.
Gamification / Satisfaction
Think the really cool thing is that once you start to document it, it makes it more like a game. How many things can you get done in a certain amount of time? Can you beat your previous best record?
Also I prepare myself for each new day, the night before I will know which task I need to do and I will “sleep on it”.
My most satisfying thing to track has been my sleep! When I have a good night’s sleep, my day is so much better. Testing to improve it by eating cashews at night and taking magnesium supplements. Read a fiction book. Drink a big glass of water. Do these affect things? So many variables about sleep – temperature, light, noise. Stress levels from the day before. Can’t say I have mastered how to improve my sleep, but it still makes life a lot more interesting. Or maybe I’m just a nerd, ha!
Wife Calling Me a Robot
One of the side effects of getting so much discipline is it makes you a bit more rigid. I do admit, I am more robotic. My wife complains to me on a semi-regular basis that I am in-flexible and I have changed so much.
At the same time, I have improved so much, and I am able to get so much more done in less time. Now I am taking my son for more bike rides. Heck, I should journal how much time I spend with my family and what I did with them when.
I’m sure if I had tracked that – the trend would be going up over time.
Let’s do it – I will document time I spend with my family now – this blog post just motivated me to do that!
Inspired To Do The Same? Start Step by Step.
Maybe I’m motivating you to try this out. Others around me have gotten inspired as well and get into it.
Yet I have seen many burn out quickly. Think it is because they take on too many things all at the same time. I started documenting my writing in September 2014. The next journal I think was the morning miracle one and that was in November 2014. I didn’t start the seven journals I have now all at once.
And even within each journal, there are more and more enhancements I keep making. I’ll add a new column and add another routine in that routine. For example, my writing journal has grown into where the multiple sections I write on a new row. I didn’t do that when I first started. And now I am doing 30 minute sets instead of 14 minute sets when I first started (that is to match brain.fm set to be honest).
My main point to anyone wanting to try this for themselves, is to pick 1 routine you want to start with. And really make sure you update it daily. Best to document it when you start the routine, and then finish the editing and adding the entry right after you’ve finished.
Excited To Continue to Hone This in 2016
I’m so excited for the future. Life is a challenge, and that is what makes it interesting. It’s not meant to be a chore or something you dread. Make it a game, and improve it.
Maybe if you’re doing something in life that you hate, make it a game to work towards getting out of it. I don’t have it now, but when I was working at Deutsche Bank I had a dedicated savings account that would allow me to quit my job. I put as much savings as I could in there, building it up so that I could build up my confidence to quit my job.
I guess all these journals are like emotional piggy banks for your life and improvement.
Do You Keep Journals?
How about you, do you keep a journal of anything and everything? Think that I am a crazy man for doing this? Have some more tips and tricks you’d like to share with me and other readers – I’d love to see your comment below!