Self-Discipline – the subtext behind our endless time management research, our constant “To Do Lists” and our eternal battle with procrastination. But what if you lack it? We all know somebody who seems to have mountains of the stuff. Decides they will wake at 6 in the morning, every morning and run 10K and actually wakes at 6 in the morning, every morning and runs 10K. Those of us who have never acquired this skill set can only watch in wonder.
There are countless gurus providing helpful advice on how to improve our level of self-discipline, some of the prevailing tips are outlined below:
1. Form a Habit
Creating a daily routine is an essential element of self discipline. This gives the mind an order of things and restricts the internal chatter or gratification seeking intensified by variation. With persistence and consistency you can change your actions into habits. Follow a daily routine as much as possible for 1-2 months and you will find your actions coming naturally.
2. Use a To Do List
There are far too many distractions for an untrained mind to ignore. One way of combating this is to create and stick to a To Do List. Checking each task as you go can help further your momentum. Mark Twain once wrote “if you eat a live frog for breakfast the rest of the day should taste great”. In other words deal with your most difficult task first thing that day and the rest will be far more attractive. You should also follow the 1-3-5 Rule. That is, identifying each day 1 large job, 3 medium jobs and 5 small jobs that need to be completed. Doing this in the evening before you leave work or at night is a good idea as this will give you some clear direction for the following day.
3. Make SMART Goals
When planning your daily routine and making out your to do lists make sure that your objectives are SMART. SMART goals are goals that are 1.Specific 2.Measurable 3.Attainable 4.Realistic and 5.Timely.
A specific goal has a greater chance of being attained than a general one. The more clearly defined your goal the more focused you can be.
Measuring your progress makes it possible to see how far you have come. The satisfaction in this is a huge motivator.
Almost all goals are attainable. The secret is to be wise in your methods. This step requires that you are open to the different ways and opportunities available to you to see your goal through to the end.
Realistic goals are goals which you are both willing and able to work toward. If you set a goal for yourself that you are not fully sure of why would you put in the hard work necessary to reach it? Make sure that your goal is something you want.
A goal should also have a timeline. An indefinite timeline allows too much room for manoeuvre. It doesn’t matter if you are not a person who works best under pressure. Some level of urgency works wonders on everybody’s motivation.
4. Delay Gratification
Lastly, delay gratification. This is something we are all familiar with and probably requires the most will power. Withholding treats or rewards until after we have completed tasks means we are less likely to stop mid-way. In fact it is a good idea to treat ourselves after a productive day even when we don’t need it as the positive reinforcement this provides can work wonders for when we do.
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