Self-discipline…. or the lack of it

I often struggle with self-discipline. Something I want to actively change. I can very well make up a schedule for myself and decide that I need to stick to it… only to completely ignore it. I don’t have a problem keeping appointments or even making sure that I submit work when there’s a strict deadline. I’ve never missed a flight or had a problem getting my kid to school.

My problem tends to be more personal and from the numerous articles and posts that I read, I realize that this is somewhat of an epidemic…. or at least it seems that way.

I’ve come across several good tips that I feel are helping:

  • Don’t break the chain: Doing something everyday and marking it off on your calendar is an effective method. So basically, don’t break the chain. This is useful for creating a habit and many people call it a habit tracker. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’ve been using this to journal (one paragraph of reflection/ gratitude), study, blogging.
  • Block out time on your calendar: Make a schedule and stick to it. The most famous of schedules is probably Benjamin Franklin’s. He detailed his entire day, blocking out time for work. The idea is to go into “Deep Work” mode or “Laser” mode. This isn’t easy when you have people constantly calling/ sending messages. It seems that we very rarely get uninterrupted time any more. I’m really failing at this one. 
  • Break down tasks: A big reason we don’t get around to doing things (procrastinating!!!) is not because we are lazy. It’s because we either feel overwhelmed with the sheer size of the project or we don’t know how to get started. I’m trying to break things down. I write out steps no matter how small they may be and then arrange them in an order to start. This is really helping me. Seeing a series of smaller tasks doesn’t seem so overwhelming any more.
  • Just do it (like Nike!): I’ve written about this before. Another big reason for procrastinating is the need for perfection. While it seems like doing something perfectly is a positive, it can end up being a big hindrance. The fear of not accomplishing something well enough often leads to no action at all. This is why when I came across the words… Progress over Perfection, it seemed like genius. We can spend hours thinking of the perfect was to do something or, we can just do it. It’s good to be accurate but it’s ok not to be perfect.

All these tips are easier said than done. Life and distractions always seem to get in the way. I’m trying to work at this everyday and pick up further pointers as I go along.

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