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Review: 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine

Recently blogger Crystal Paine shared how she was learning self-discipline in her own life.  Some days it worked and some days it didn’t, but no matter what, readers responded enthusiastically in the comments.   That series of blog posts has been reworked and expanded into an intensely practical little ebook, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.

Crystal covers almost all of the aspects of self-discipline in 21 short readings:  motivation, habits, obstacles, goals, negative thought patterns, accountability, focus, prioritizing, and beating deadlines.  Each day’s section ends with a practical application or two.  Crystal also holds your hand through a 21-day ‘mega project’, something you’ve been putting off because you don’t know where to start.

For example, right on Day 1, after learning how self-discipline is a choice, you’ll get the first homework assignment:

  1. Choose a very small project that’s been nagging at you and do it in the next 24 hours and
  2. Choose a megaproject that you don’t know how to start, break it into 21 steps, and do step 1.

Each day’s pep talk and advice is very helpful.  Beside many sensible suggestions, broken into manageable chunks, I found a link that may change my life.  If it works, I’ll blog about it soon.  The homework for each day is manageable, too.

So far I’ve read the book (only 60 pages, with no padding or fluff, nice and short) and accomplished the first few days of practical applications.  I have made lists of big projects, little projects, habits to develop, and goals.  What’s more, I have decided which ones to work on now and which ones to leave for later. 

For my small project, on day 1, I compiled and sent in a list of errors I’d promised someone almost a year ago to help with the revision of one of her company’s books.  After 10 months of having that nagging me, it was finished.  Such a relief!  And why had I waited so long?  It took me less than half an hour of actual work!

As my megaproject I first planned to organize our books and sell the excess, but soon realized that something else was much more necessary:  We’re still harvesting our garden, we’re getting 22 chickens butchered in two days, and our freezers are almost fullWith Crystal’s encouragement, I was able to move from panic mode to practical action.  So far, we’ve eaten a lot, reorganized the freezers, and cleared a lot of space by making plum jam and plum sauce out of last year’s frozen bumper crop of plums.  Yes, we were the ones that did the work, but somehow Crystal’s little ebook helped me to face this huge challenge.  And, after one more day of plum processing, we will have space in our freezer for those chickens as well as for a dozen meals worth of kale that’s waiting to be frozen.  (No, we didn’t have 21 days for this project, but it sure was mega!) My next mega project, which will take about 21 days, is to complete Mr. 17’s transcripts for university applications.

I’ve calculated that it will probably take less than an hour to do each day’s reading, homework, and megaproject segment.  After 21 days I expect to be very, very pleased with my progress and ready to go through the book again after selecting a new megaproject, habit, and goal.

This little ebook is a jewel.  The only thing Crystal is missing in 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life is a strong emphasis on prayer.  After all, self-discipline is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and we need to ask for it as well as work for it.  But we do need to work for it.  Crystal’s book helps us be intentional about that.  Therefore, I strongly encourage you to buy the book.

You can get it here.

This is yet another book in the in the 2012 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Better Mom Monday, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesdays, Works For Me Wednesday , Wisdom Wednesdays, Raising Homemakers, and Frugal Friday.

Disclosure  I received a free copy of this ebook in order to review it and was not compensated for this review.  As often happens, I was offered an affiliate link with this book, but as always, I prefer not to risk bias in my reviews.  In order to preserve strict objectivity, Tea Time with Annie Kate accepts no affiliate links. 


  1. Jenn4him says:

    Wow, that sounds like a great little book! I need some discipline.

  2. heather says:

    Wow with a toddler and a newborn I.could use some help in the disciplined department! Sounds like a great book!

  3. Shonya says:

    Wow! Talk about the perfect resource for me! I need to finish unpacking and decorating my home, get a menu list prepared and my pantry stocked for winter, get our daily schedule down in writing, go through the children’s clothing to be ready for winter changes, etc, etc, etc. Do you think she would like to just come and spend 21 days helping me with my projects?? 🙂

  4. JoannaTopazT says:

    I love Crystal’s blog and would love to own her book.

  5. JoAnn says:

    Well, that’s what I get for being on vacation and not reading my blog reader sooner, I’m the fifth commenter. But it does look like a good book. I’ll have to look into it sometime.

  6. Annie Kate says:

    Congratulations, ladies. I’ll get the book information to you right away.

    Shonya, when you get the book, you’ve got her helping you with your projects. 🙂 It’s really that good.

    JoAnn, it’s only 99c until the end of Thursday. Totally worth it!

    1. Shonya says:

      Tee, hee, I’m looking forward to getting and reading this! In fact, I’m putting a hold on all projects until I’ve completed reading this book (great excuse for further procrastination, don’t you think?).

      And I’m also exctied about the challenge on Crystal’s blog–I need some accountability!

      1. Annie Kate says:

        Actually, I didn’t get it to you right away. I was doing kale, then taking chickens to be butchered, and now I’m totally tuckered out.

        But in the spirit of doing tiny projects right away, I’ll send you ladies the email right away. I DID learn something from the book! 🙂

  7. Hey, I saw you were reviewing this book and wanted to share that a blogging friend and I are going to be hosting a challenge/accountability group for anyone and everyone interested…you can find details in my review, here: http://www.servingjoyfully.com/2012/10/23/self-discipline-challenge/

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thanks, Crystal. That looks like a good idea!

  8. Katie says:

    Thanks for the review! This book looks like something I NEED!

  9. Misty says:

    Thanks for sharing this book! Tips for organizing life is always needed! Thanks for linkin it up too at Simply Helping Him! Blessings!

  10. […] for the 21 Day Self-Discipline Challenge, based on 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, I’m going to take some everyday projects and divide them into daily tasks as well as tackle a […]

  11. PO says:

    I definitely need it! Backlogs waiting.

  12. […] Time would go very well with Crystal’s 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, which I reviewed here.  Amy gives you time management wisdom and Crystal shows you how to discipline yourself to follow […]

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