When I began editing my book, I came to the realisation that I lacked self discipline. This revelation came as a shock to me for I had always prided myself on being an organised, disciplined person. I have always been a punctual person who works to deadlines and who thrives in an environment that consists of routine. Self discipline differs from just plain old discipline however – I learnt that when I left to my own devices procrastination had become my best friend – particularly when it came to doing tasks that I did not want to have to do. Think about it you don’t lack self discipline when you are meeting up with friends or going on a holiday.
Eager to see how others feel about self discipline, I did a little research online and in person through talking with others. Not surprisingly number one on the list where a lack of self discipline is felt is when it comes to exercising. We know exercise is good for us and if we find a type of exercise we enjoy, we know it can be fun and yet all of us at some point are guilty of not keeping to a regular regime.
So what is self discipline? It is about having self control and self restraint or more specifically the training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.
How do you get some? Well here is what is working for me:
To-Do lists: I am a great fan of lists as it helps me visualise my end goal. At first when you have a goal, it can feel quite overwhelming thinking about achieving your goal. A clear To-Do Lists helps you to focus on the actions that need to be taken to obtain your goal. A list also allows you to prioritise your tasks so you can see what needs your immediate attention and then you can work through other non urgent items as time and your attention allow. What works best for me is to have daily To-Do lists. Once you have the list and you begin to work your way through it as you achieve each task you have the satisfaction of checking each done task off your list. By the end of each day when you see all the ticks signalling a done list – tell me you don’t feel a sense of achievement – go on I dare you.
Small increments: When you have a lot of something to do, divide it into smaller tasks that are more manageable. When I first thought about having to edit twenty-seven chapters, it made me feel all kinds of stress. All positive thoughts I had about finishing the first draft of my first ever book left me so I changed my thinking. I decided to focus on just the one chapter. Once I was done editing that chapter, I began the next chapter and so on. As I went on I never let myself think about the entire book. I would concentrate on the chapter in hand only. Sometimes the momentum of getting started will keep you going. Other times, the promise of a break and an end in sight will make a task more palatable. You need to find out what works for you.
Routine: Everyone has some kind of routine whether you are conscious of it or not… you get up, shower and brush your teeth – that is a routine. I find a structured day helps me stay focused so I like to keep the timing of my daily tasks the same each day. It starts something like this 6:15 Meditation 6:45 To-do list….
Take Breaks: Of course it depends on what the task in hand is – it might not be appropriate if you are performing open heart surgery – but research has proven mental concentration is similar to a muscle and as such it becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover. You are more likely to achieve desired results if you take regular breaks; make a cup of tea, go for a walk, do some exercise – anything as long as it is different from the task you are tackling. Even a break as short as a minute can be of benefit.
Repetition: It goes without saying the more you do something the easier it gets.
Be Proud: As you complete tasks off your To-Do List give yourself a slap on the back for a job well done or if you are like me do a little happy dance. Go on you deserve it.
Often the idea of self discipline can feel boring, but I find the more self disciplined I get my days are more productive and in turn that makes me energised to do more.