Podcast Show Notes
Podcast 05: I’ve been feeling distracted lately so I’ve studied the character of diligence as one way to overcome bad habits. If you get distracted then join me to work through this 5 point action plan to grow and move forward. Don’t forget to download a bonus worksheet.
Listen to the Podcast – or keep on reading the blog.
Organising my week to meet my goals: When I know my goals I can start organising my week to meet those goals instead of just following someone else’s system.
5 Character Traits for Busy Women: Busyness robs us of our intentionality and purpose. We need to focus on positive character traits to find balance.
3 Fresh Starts for Every Mum: When things go wrong we don’t have to be hindered by guilt we can get up and make some changes.
The Blog: 5 Point Action Plan to Grow in Diligence
At the beginning of each year I try and set priorities for each sphere of my life. I find that this works better than setting goals because goals can be all over the place. When I review each sphere of my life, and see what the priority needs to be then I can set goals that will help me work towards that priority.
Recently though I’ve been feeling distracted – too much going on in my head, not enough focus.
As is our family practice that when we want to grow in a particular response in life we look for a character based response that we can grow in. I looked at Character First list of character traits and ran through a few different character qualities that define focus in some way:
Responsibility: knowing and doing what is expected of me
Diligence: focusing my effort on the work at hand
Self control or Discipline – choosing behaviours to help me reach my goals
Orderliness – organizing my thoughts and surroundings for greater achievement
Dependability – fulfilling my commitments even in the face of difficulty
Determination – overcoming obstacles in order to reach my goal
Thoroughness – taking care of necessary details (to be successful)
I finally chose Diligence: focusing my effort on the work at hand. Diligence also seemed to be the opposite to being distracted. It addresses the very core issues I struggle with: the idea of procrastination, of distraction, of jumping from task to task.
Create a Plan to Grow in Diligence
When it came to helping my kids establish good character, and good habits I would be very strategic and intentional. I needed to do the same in my own life. I need to study diligence, understand it, look for areas to practice it, look for habits to change.
As I thought on diligence I had to answer the question – why is diligence important? What makes diligence the right response in my life? When we know why something is right, or why it is important we give ourselves an internal motivation to push through when things are hard. My answer is:
The reason why it is important for me to grow in diligence is because it gives respect to the things that I feel are important to do at this moment in time. Diligence will help me have a work-life balance – so I can have time to work on all spheres of my life. It is so I can complete my projects and commitments on time – being respectful of other people in my life.
To be intentional in working on change I need to be able to define what this change will look like. What will diligence look like in my life? This will look different in everyone’s life – even if we are all working towards diligence.
For me diligence will look like:
- I will do one thing at a time
- I will know what is the most important thing for me to do in a particular time slot
- I will follow my plan. My days are very doable with all that I have to do – I even have margin and free space in my days – but the thing is I don’t listen to my alarm which tells me to move onto the next thing in my day. So my day gets crammed up and I don’t achieve what I want to achieve. To learn to be diligent in my life means I need to follow my plan.
Character First uses this language; they have 5 I will statements for each character trait. It is more than just positive thinking. It is changing how we think. Instead of saying I don’t want to do this we say, to be diligent I will do this.
Key Changes to my Thinking
As I’ve reflected on diligence versus being distracted I’ve focused on three key phrases. Each of these phrases have helped me change my thinking about the things that I do and how I allow myself to be distracted.
The Urgent isn’t always Important
As I have reflected on how I spend my time and how my distraction affects my projects I’ve become aware that the urgent things that I do aren’t always the important things. They become urgent because I procrastinate getting them done. But I am stressed while I’m doing it and exhausted at the end.
From little things, big things grow. Now usually that is a positive little quote – but it can be turned around and not be so positive too. From the little tasks I have to do – when I procrastinate they grow into big things, big things with urgency, big things with consequences.
That means I need to do things in a timely manner. I need to do things when they come across my desk. There is a saying that is often used when handling mail or email: HOO – Handle Only Once. The idea of putting it aside till another time is just a form of organized procrastination!! Do it Now – Handle only once!
Recognizing the Value in the Things I Do
I found it very challenging to look into my heart and to see what I really believed about the things that I was doing. I was acting as if the things that I filled my day with – or was supposed to be filling my day with – weren’t very important. My girls head off to work every day because they have a sense of responsibility – not only to themselves, but to their co-workers, to their boss. What they do is important. I need to have this sense of value on what I do as well.
As I identified all the stuff that was floating around in my head I saw how quickly I said yes to new things, and how hard it was to say no. I could just say that I lacked the discipline to say no to other things – but I think it went deeper than that. I lacked the ability to say no, because maybe this new idea would give me more value, maybe it would be more important that what was already happening in my day. Because I wasn’t valuing what I was doing it was easy to add more things to my day.
When we give value to what we are doing there comes a sense of contentment. I believe that contentment can drive our focus. Knowing what we are doing is valuable, important, worthwhile. It could be the housework, it could be looking after a sick baby, it could be blogging or homeschooling. Whatever it is that you have filling your days if you have given it due consideration, if you have decided this is a priority for this season in your life – then it is valuable. It is what you are supposed to be doing. We need to rest in that.
Every season of my life has had different opportunities and different challenges. If I focus on the tasks at hand, the tasks that are significant for this season in life, then I can focus my energies into doing this season well. Continually looking forward is a distraction in itself – it will rob us of the focus and energy we need to do this season well.
There’s a difference between Busy and Productive
Even on my most distracted day I’m busy – but I haven’t been productive. There is always something to do. Knowing my priorities helps me set my goals. Knowing my goals or projects (in small doable steps) gives me purpose to my day.
A key in filling my day with purposeful activity is to actually have a plan – and have reminders. A plan helps you move from being busy (distracted) to being purposeful and productive. As I made my plan I had to have an honest look about when I get distracted, what triggers it, and how I can remind myself to be diligent instead.
The thing I’ve noticed about myself is that if I don’t maintain my morning routine then I get distracted for the rest of the day. My mornings are the key. If I can have self control in my mornings I win for my day. This is a trigger – what I do in my mornings triggers distraction AND it triggers diligence.
I have chosen two things to help me win in my mornings – this is my plan to develop diligence:
- I have talked to Jess about this and asked her to keep me accountable. I’ve told her what my morning routine is and when she wakes up she’s checking up on me
- I have created a reminder poster to stay diligent. I’ve also set reminder alarms on my phone at key times in my day to help me remember to move on to what is important for that next block of time.
So this is what I’m working on at the moment – growing in diligence.
Do you get distracted? Do you put aside the hard things? Do you have too many things going on in your head? I invite you to consider growing in diligence – not just as a head knowledge thing, but truly changing your habits – changing how you think about the things that you do, changing how you respond to maintaining balance with all your different spheres of life.
Five point action plan to Grow in Diligence:
- Identify where you get distracted
- Identify why you want to be diligent
- Identify what diligence will look like in your life
- Build a plan to overcome
- Find an accountability partner and set yourself a reminder
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