Automating self discipline

Warning: The following post is as much about personal time management as it is about Digital Marketing. If that’s not your cup of tea, move on and be efficient by not reading this article.

One of the key challenges of working in digital marketing, is how do you make enough time to get everything done? Between Tweeting, blogging, updating your Facebook page, setting up Google+ and moderating the spam on your LinkedIn discussion group (to name but a few), how do you actually manage to create anything that’s actually original and engaging.

I’m not going to talk about setting objectives, task list management or the need for super-human like self discipline. Neither am I going to talk about giving up sleep or weekends. There is a simple rule that I have learnt that takes away the need for all of these things (although I stil work plenty of evenings and weekends, but it’s a choice rather than a burden – at least most of the time!). It’s simple and it has worked for me.

I am a full time trainer and consultant, which in my case means I talk, write or train for clients 4 or 5 days a week. I also have a blog (you’re reading it), a top 20 iTunes podcast, a Facebook/Google+ page and a LinkedIn discusion group (all in various states of success with massive opportunities for improvement). I also have an online training subscription based business that is just starting, for which I have just signed a partnership deal with the worlds largest marketing body. Oh, and I’m writing two books (for which I have signed deals with a publisher and manuscript submission deadlines). I’m pretty damned busy.

I’ve spent years worrying about getting enough done, where I should be spending my time and generally that I’m not successful/smart/original enough. Lately (and I mean in the last few months) I found one rule that solved a lot of this for me. And this is it…..

Whatever I am doing I now ask myself one question:


  • Looking at the BBC news site for the 50th time that day – NO
  • Writing a blog post, however uncertain of the final content I may be – YES
  • Reading Tweets 150 times a day – NO
  • Reading emails as the arrive – NO
  • Doing 10 minutes on that massive project that I keep putting off – YES
  • Drinking wine, watching TV and sitting on my ass – YES (we all need to relax!)
  • Drinking wine, watching TV and sitting on my ass while worrying about that massive project I keep putting off – NO NO NO
  • Reading other peoples blogs for inspiration and taking notes of ideas – YES
  • Reading other peoples blogs and worrying that my blog isn’t good enough – NO

Hopefully you’re getting the idea. One simple question can help you automate your self discipline, keep you putting one productive foot in front of another and stop you stressing yourself out. It will allow you to focus on creating content while appreciating the good things in life and help you stop procrastinating.

I welcome your feedback both positive and positively critical. If you want to leave a negative comment please do, but just think to yourself – Are you being productive? If so, go for it.