How To Develop Self-Discipline
It’s time to say bon voyage to your less-disciplined life. You’re the captain of your ship and as long as you’re determined to continue to move forward, you will notice the positive change in your life in no time.
Habits are powerful, but they’re not easy to form—particularly good habits. Creating a schedule for your daily tasks and activities that you’re able to stick to will help you to develop self-discipline.
Setting up an organized daily routine is a little bit of art and a little bit of science. The science is figuring out what you need to get done, while the art is figuring out when to do it.
This is how you can develop self-discipline in just 5 steps:
1. Make A List Starting With A Modest Goal
In order to develop self-discipline, write down everything you need to get done daily first, both in your home life and at work. Don’t worry about how you organize this list; this is a brain dump, not a to-do list. Take 30 minutes with a notebook to jot down everything you do each day, as well as everything you should get done.
If you feel like it’s too hard to remember all the tasks in one sitting, carry around a notebook and take notes throughout the day. In the beginning, no task is too small—if you want to work “brush teeth” into your routine, put it on the list.
Don’t feel pressured to be the most disciplined person in the world. Start by taking small steps instead. And once you finish one goal, go on to the next one until you feel more comfortable with the process. “Once you have accomplished the goal (getting to work early, avoiding the social media sinkhole, being on time for meetings, writing a certain number of words a day), then give yourself a pat on the back and commit to one more day. Once you have been consistent for a few days, the behavior will start to become a habit. Humans are creatures of habit — and it won’t take long for self-discipline to become the new reality.
2. Structure Your Day
Early birds get things done most effectively before lunchtime, while night owls tend to get their creative burst of energy in the evenings. Think about when you work best, and group your tasks into the time of day (Morning, Midday, and Evening) that makes the most sense for when you will best complete them.
Within these loose outlines of each part of your day, you can get as specific as you want. For example, you might want to write out a routine for your morning that looks something like this:
o 6 a.m.: Wake up, brush teeth, and shower
o 6:30 a.m.: Breakfast
o 7 a.m.: Leave the house
o 7:15 a.m.: Drop off the kids at school
o 7:30: Arrive at the office
That’s a very detailed schedule, but some people might feel more comfortable with that—at least until they get the hang of the routine.
3. Schedule In Time For Flexibility
Life gets in the way of even the most detailed of routines. The point is to harness your most productive times to use for your most challenging tasks, and your least productive times to do the more mundane tasks. There might be times when you have to go to a doctor’s appointment during the hours you usually set aside for work, or your evening is taken up by a social gathering—a daily routine will keep things flowing smoothly, despite hiccups.
4. Complete The Hardest Tasks First
Instead of avoiding the hardest tasks, try to complete them first so the rest of your day is easy breezy. “If you have many tasks to accomplish in a day, start with the one you want to avoid [the] most. This will make you gain confidence quickly and help the rest of your day roll downhill easy as pie. If the task is too big, chunk it up. Breaking down big goals into manageable parts helps you stay focused and keeps you from being overwhelmed. A common technique is to use a timer.
Related Video: 3 Ways To Stay Motivated After A Disappointment
5. Do What Comes Naturally
If you have a hard time developing self-discipline, start with things that come naturally to you to help ease yourself into the process. Use grandma’s rule. Behavior theorists have formalized what grandma always knew. You will eat your peas if you know you get dessert later. So when you’re at the gym, think about the body you’ll have when you’re done, or the vacation you’ll take in August. Just don’t reward yourself with something that backtracks your goals like a gallon of ice cream or a shopping spree that makes that rent check a little light.
If you give up every time you mess up, then you won’t get anywhere fast. Be kind to yourself and don’t overthink it. Ease your way into this new system and soon it may become a habit. You really have nothing to lose. Stop thinking! Certain things are non-negotiable, I really don’t like going to bed early, but I also really don’t like being cranky, irritable, and nonproductive. There’s a great quote about this: ‘Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret.
6. Hold Yourself Accountable
One of the greatest ways to hold yourself accountable is by writing down your progress. This process allows you to log all the steps you’ve taken. And when you’re having a rough day, you can review your progress to see how far you’ve come and how well you’re currently doing.
One of my clients uses journaling as an accountability measure. Another client uses her calendar to hold herself accountable. She makes an appointment with herself as a way to check in and verifies that she has done what she said she’ll do. But I think the most creative accountability method comes from a client who puts a stone in her pocket. She has a medium-sized smooth stone that she keeps on her desk. When she commits to an action, the stone goes in her pocket and doesn’t come out until the action is complete. The weight of the stone is a constant reminder to her.
While it might take some time to develop self-discipline, it’s totally worth it. All you have to do is write down your progress, hold yourself accountable, and set smart goals. Trust me, you’re stronger than you think. You got this.
If you’re ready to put in place systems and structure in your business for better productivity and increase in profitability, get in touch today. We’d love to help.
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