Self-discipline is one of the best skills we can cultivate for productivity and to help us achieve our goals. Whether you want to improve your own self-discipline or want to encourage and empower your team, students or clients to do the same, understanding what self-discipline is, is the first step in improving it.
So What Is Self-Discipline?
Often thought of as something we either have or don’t have, or something we are or are not, self-discipline is usually thought of as the ability to be strict with ourselves and do the things we know we should be doing, sticking to a plan, and staying on task.
A great way to look at self-discipline is as a skill, and like any other skill, self-discipline can be learned and improved. We all have our own ways of operating and creating an environment for us to succeed in can really help us stay on task.
Here’s a few things that help us improve our self-discipline:
1. Have A Plan
Some of us are natural planners, some of us are not. Either way, having a plan is a great way to make sure we have a structure and timeline to follow. A lack of a plan can lead us away from a place of being focused, towards a place where we can become distracted and taken off task much more easily.
Plans don’t have to be super-detailed from start to finish to work – it’s often the case that plans need some flexibility- but key goals, objectives and timelines need to be established.
2. Know Why You’re Doing It
If we know the reason why something needs to be done and why it needs to be done by a specific time or date, it’s much easier to stay on task as knowing this can give us a greater level of motivation. This is particularly true if we stand to let ourselves or others down by not completing the task.
The cool thing about motivation is that when we have more of it we don’t need as much self-discipline.
Motivation is inversely-proportional to self-discipline – the more of it we have, the less self-discipline we need. When we’re deeply motivated by something, we don’t need discipline to spring into action. On the flip-side, if we don’t have the motivation to do something, we will need more self-discipline to get it done.
3. Manage Multi-Tasking
Some jobs require a high-level of multi-tasking but for greater productivity and staying on-task it’s a good strategy to focus on one thing at a time wherever possible.
When we multitask not only are we more easily distracted, switching tasks comes with an energy overhead too, and can be quite draining if we do it too much.
So how can we manage multitasking?
Even if your role requires you to juggle several activities at the same time, giving the current task at hand your full concentration will help you do a much better job.
This is where presence comes in – being present and bringing our attention to the task at hand will help us stay focused and stay on-task. Go back and listen to, watch or read my last post for more on presence.
It’s also important to take regular structured breaks where you (at least attempt to) switch off from the task or tasks at hand. It’s common for us to never really switch off from our work but developing this skill will help us to stay focused when we’re working and be more self-disciplined.
So there you have 3 ways to improve self-discipline. If you have a plan, are motivated by good reasoning and you manage yourself well around multiple tasks you’ll become more productive which in and of itself is motivating, and when we’re ‘on a roll’ and we’re being productive we can use that momentum to get even more done.