Improving your life through sheer willpower might work for some super-humans, but it’s a recipe for disaster for most of us. You try to do something; you fail, you feel discouraged, you stop trying.
On the other hand, establishing a few simple ‘Rules and Routines’ can add order to your life, and make you feel far more in control and more productive.
You can introduce ‘Rules’ incrementally as a way towards accomplishing a much bigger goal. For example, let’s set a rule towards a bigger goal of weight loss:
Weight Loss Rule #1 – No snacking after 7:00 p.m.
All you have to do is master that one rule for now. That’s it. And by the way, this is a good rule for everyone, whether you need to lose weight or not, because eating late at night interferes with your circadian rhythm. If you eliminate eating after 7:00, you’ll improve your digestion, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll wake up more energized.
If you’re a chronic night-time snacker and a 7:00 cut-off seems too challenging, adjust the rule to something you know you can do. Make the cut-off time 8:00 or 8:30, for starters. Then, gradually move up the time in 15-minute increments until you’ve achieved your bigger goal.
Or, if that’s still too hard, be as creative as you need to be:
Weight Loss Rule #1 – Maximum HALF pail ice-cream, before midnight
You do need to utilize some willpower! The trick is to make it somewhat challenging, but not to overload yourself.
Do not introduce too many rules at once, and start with rules that are relatively easy to follow. As you achieve success, you’ll be ready to take on more challenging rules.
They say Rules are “made to be broken,” but that does NOT apply to Personal Productivity.
Master Rule #1 – If I set a Rule, I MUST honor it.
Here’s the thing. You’re a solopreneur. You’ve got NOBODY to set and monitor the rules for you, so guess who has to do it?
Hint: Not one person in the history of the universe ever became a highly successful achiever without following strict, self-imposed rules.
If you genuinely want to be an achiever, agreeing to “Master Rule #1” is compulsory. Otherwise, there’s a different word for you. You’re a dreamer.
I know that’s harsh, but it’s time to get real. Snap out of it!
Here’s the good news: Learning to follow self-imposed rules is incredibly liberating because it removes all uncertainty from the equation. There’s no longer any internal debate about whether you’re going to do something, or not. All you have to do is follow the rules.
Once you set a rule, you can now eliminate from your brain the constant feelings of neglect and guilt over NOT doing what you know you need to be doing.
When you’ve successfully followed a rule for long enough, it will start to feel like an ingrained habit!
Now, you can go ahead and introduce a new rule! For example, you’ve mastered Weight Loss Rule #1 (no eating after 7:00 p.m.). How about adding this new rule?
Weight Loss Rule #2 — No sugary drinks, ever.
Or whatever. Pick something.
Guess what? You’re accomplishing things—one step at a time—towards a much bigger goal. You’re feeling good about the positive changes you are making, and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish over time.
What about ‘Routines’?
A ‘Routine’ is simply a recurring task that you perform at a pre-determined time-blocked ‘Appointment with Yourself.’
- You send a report to all your sellers every Monday morning, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
- You take care of your bookkeeping the first Friday of every month, beginning at 1:00 p.m.
- You review your Prospect List every day between 9:00-9:15.
I suggest you make a list of ALL your routine activities that you KNOW you should be doing, but just keep a list for now. Do NOT try to implement rules and routines all at once. ️
Before you implement ANY new routine, you must agree with Master Rule #2:
Master Rule #2 — I agree to treat ‘Appointments with Myself’ with the exact same level of respect as I would treat an “Appointment with my Most Valuable Client.” I will prepare myself mentally beforehand, I will start on time and finish on time, I will turn off ALL distractions, and I will give the task my FULL attention for the FULL duration of the Appointment.
Master Rule #2 is a tough one for almost all REALTORS®!
I completely understand! I suggest you work up to Master Rule #2 by introducing and mastering some easier rules, first.
For example, I just recently set a new rule for myself:
Tidy Office Rule – Tidy and Organize for five minutes every morning.
As soon as I walk into my office EVERY morning, I set a timer for ten minutes, and I tidy and organize. I just started doing this, and it already feels great to work in a tidier and more organized space!
I’ve trained myself to follow my self-imposed rules so that this new Tidy Office Rule is already a routine for me. I walk in the office, and I set to work immediately, picking up where I left off yesterday.
This is just an elementary example of how you can use rules and routines to increase your productivity.
Think of one simple rule you can implement today as a stepping stone towards a bigger goal.
Here’s a suggestion: The Real Agent Memo comes out early in the morning, every Thursday. How about you make it a rule that you will take the five minutes it takes to read it, every Thursday morning before it gets buried in your gigantic overwhelming backlog of email?
We can deal with your email problem another day! ☺️