Discipline to Make a Day Productive


One of my challenge is to discipline myself to “plan and do” day in and day out.  I feel I am pretty good at organizing my activities and following them up when I have a relatively structured day.  By structured day, I mean that I have meetings, and deadlines, covering days and weeks.  Though I  feel I am under time pressure following the structured days, I know how to get myself motivated and can get things done.

My challenge is how to be productive when I have free time and a project which is much longer term such as books etc.  I need to set up my own deadline not only for the completion (which may be months away), but also weekly and daily deadline.  It is so easy for me to find my day go by without getting things done.  I also find writing to be quite a challenge.

When I was struggling to finish my doctoral dissertation over two decades ago, I looked for the ways how writers discipline themseves.  My finding was that those who write many (and not just one great book!) seem to have self-structured days.  Many set up time to write and sit down to write no matter what.  Some days they are productive and write some good pages that they love, but they also have days  they simply cannot write anything good that satisfies them.  The important lesson was to set aside time to write as a part of daily routine.

I had thought that those writers are either always excited to write and/or writing comes naturally to them without much of a discipline.  The finding that they discipline themselves was a great help for me.  I decided to follow the similar routine.  (I am not a writer and will never be the one with many books, but at least I can try!)   I am still in the process of experimenting.

Yoko Ishikura
Yoko Ishikura is a Professor at Hitotsubashi University ICS in the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy in Japan. She has held positions as a professor at the School of International Politics, Economics and Business of Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, as a consultant at McKinsey and Company Inc. Japan and a visiting professor at Darden School.

Professor Ishikura is a consultant to a number of multinational companies and has been a frequent speaker at management conferences, seminars, and workshops throughout the world. She was a member of the Regulatory Reform Committee for the Japanese government and the International Competitiveness Commission for METI. She is currently a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum.

She is the author of Strategic Shift from OR choices to AND paradigm, Building Core Skills of Organization , and the co-author of the following publications: Managing Diversity in the 21st Century, Strategy for Cluster Initiatives in Japan , and Building a Career to the World Class Professionals – all in Japanese. Her books in English include: Asian Advantage, Hitotsubashi on Knowledge Management and Trust and Antitrust in Asian Business Alliances.

Professor Ishikura’s current research interests are focused on global competition, innovation, and knowledge management. She received her BA from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan; MBA from Darden School, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia; and DBA from Harvard Business School.
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