How To Build Self Discipline & Stop Procrastinating

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No matter if you have to study for an exam, prepare a business presentation, or write a letter for that job application. We all know those times in which our motivation and self discipline are nowhere to be found. We think in general, our lives can be separated into two different parts the life we currently live and the life we want to live. Or in other words, our current situation and our dreams and aspirations. In order to get from one side to the other, we have to put in a lot of work along the way.

But as you might know, it never is that easy to do the work because there is something called resistance between those two sides. As Stephen Pressfield says in his book The War of Arts, Resistance is a universal force that has one sole mission to keep things as they are. It is the force that will stop an individual’s creative activity through any means necessary, whether it be rationalizing, inspiring fear and anxiety, emphasizing other distractions that require attention, raising the voice of an inner critic, and much more.

Finishing tasks would help achieve goals. But fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, which is called self discipline. As Samuel Thomas Davy says, self discipline is about leaning into resistance, taking action in spite of how you feel living a life by design, not by default, but most importantly, it’s acting in accordance with your thoughts, not your feelings. Today we want to share the 4 most important tips which help you overcome procrastination, build self discipline, and actually get things done.

Self Discipline

1. Remove Temptations:

So if you truly want to create something great. All of your attention has to be on one specific task for long periods of time. But as our attention became the new currency in this modern world, there are now more distractions than ever before screaming for our attention. There are cell phones, the internet, social media, emails, or annoying co-workers dropping by your desk. In order to fix this, you have to remove all kinds of toxic temptations which could possibly distract you from your work.

Because if you don’t even have the option to indulge in these distracting activities you will require a lot less willpower to withstand procrastination. What really works for me was to just set aside specific amounts of uninterrupted time to work on a project or task. So for that would be two different work blocks throughout the day. So it would be from 8 a.m. until 12:00 a.m. And from 1:30 p.m. until 07:00 p.m. In these time frames just get rid of all of these temptations in order to focus on one single task.

So what can you do to drown out all of this noise? But if you do work in the office then just close the door. This will hold chatty colleagues back from popping their heads in and distracting you and overall it will just lower the amount of noise. Alternatively, you can also just use noise-canceling headphones which eliminate any noise around you.

So it just shows other people that you’re doing some focused work and you just don’t want to talk right now. Switch your phone into flight mode and put it in a place that you can’t immediately reach. Turn off notifications that don’t require immediate attention, so especially social media and emails. Also, when you are at your PC or laptop try to cut out all sorts of distractions no matter what it is for you, it might be WhatsApp or other messengers, or its emails.

Just close the email program and let these emails accumulate over time and then have a specific time where just get back to all of these emails. Reply to them in a batch, which is a lot more time-efficient and doesn’t impact focus on other tasks. Also, a good way to see what it’s like to live without these temptations is to do a dopamine detox for 7 days.

2. Just Get Started:

“Amateurs wait for inspiration to strike while the pros get up and get to work”. I really like this quote because it is just so true. Not feeling inspired is one of the most common excuses that everybody uses in terms of creative work. But action should not be the result of inspiration or motivation, because inspiration often comes from taking action. So it’s not really a linear process, but more of a loop of those three things of inspiration, motivation, and action.

And each of these parts just reinforces the other one. So you should just focus on getting that loop started instead of waiting for inspiration to strike. It’s all about overcoming that very first resistance because almost all of the time, as soon as you get started, after five minutes, you will be in a good flow of work and you will actually enjoy it.

This applies to everything in life, not only creative work but also fitness or talking to strangers, basically anything. Like if you just approach a stranger, obviously at the beginning, there is some resistance holding you back from talking to them because probably you’re scared or you think something weird might happen. But as soon as you talk to the person, you actually figure out it’s not that bad. It’s really easy, and it’s the same for fitness.

It’s the same for your creative work. It’s the same for basically anything. If you used to be a massive overthinker and never really got started with things you wanted to do, but applying this mindset really made man of action if you want to say that and you don’t really need any motivation in order to get started. So, yeah, this is a really helpful tip. Just get started.

3. Prioritize Your Time:

I don’t have any time is no excuse Because time is all about setting priorities and if you actually want to achieve your goals, you have to make them a priority and pass on other activities one thing that’s really great for prioritizing your time and also scheduling your time throughout the day is to write Todo lists. And when you make your to-do list, you should really try to break down your tasks into concrete and achievable steps that lead to a bigger goal.

So for example, instead of saying write a video script, you should say finish the intro of the video script. Or instead of saying apply for job applications, you should just write down apply for three jobs. Just try to create very concrete to do is that you can actually achieve and take off and also try to keep them realistic.

Because taking off these different Todo’s will get you more sparks of motivation to keep you going and it will just boost your motivation instead of draining it if you don’t finish that task. Besides this Todo list, also schedule specific time blocks for these tasks. In the calendar, have four different calendars business, private release, and vacation.

Business is just business-related stuff. Private is like meeting friends, going for dinner. In a release, just keep track of all of the publishing dates for posts and videos, and on vacation. So these different calendar groups really help to separate tasks that need to get done. Define specific timings for things like appointments or calls or meetings which need to happen at one specific time. In order to just have an overview of how much time you want to devote to that one task. And release calendar actually set deadlines for the different things you have to do.

Deadlines really help you push your focus and your motivation to get something done. Obviously, you have to keep it realistic or else you’re going to get stressed out. But that deadline can actually be your friend. So this combination of a daily Todo list and an overall calendar to schedule your time blocks is the way to go.

Having this overall structure and this to-do list that you can follow really helps you reinforce the second point we talked about, which is to just get started because you know when to get started with it. It’s basically like you never go for a run because you don’t feel like it. But as soon as you sign up for a marathon and you hear that starting shot, you know what to do and you’re just going to start running.

Self Discipline

4. External Independence:

Focus on what you are in control of. This is the most important mindset when it comes to building self discipline and to living an overall happy life. So every person has something which is called their locus of control.

“The locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external factors, have control over the outcome of events in their lives”. Wikipedia

You can either have an external or an internal locus of control.

External Locus: If you have an external locus of control, you believe that the events of your life are a result of external forces.

Internal Locus: If you have an internal locus of control, you believe that the events of your life are a result of your own actions.

So for example, if you’re sitting in class and the teacher just hands you back the results of your exam and you’re just sitting there like Damn. Then the person with an external locus of control will say yeah, the teacher just doesn’t like me, the exam was too difficult, while the person with an internal one would say maybe I just didn’t study enough.

Probably I should put in more effort the next time. When it comes to self discipline, you want to have an internal locus of control. Because as soon as you have that, 90% of the excuses you come up with when feeling demotivated will just disappear because you realize that it is completely up to you and not to external factors.

See, if there’s something holding you back from doing a specific task, just ask yourself the question, Can I change something about it? If the answer is yes, then find a solution to the problem. And if the answer is no, then stop draining all of your attention and energy on this one thing and just get along with it because there’s nothing you can change about it. The more internal your locus of control becomes, the more solutions you will find to the problems you face.

This mindset applies to all areas in your life and I think that it is actually the number one reason for any success that had in my life. As soon as you become independent from external factors and you just focus on what you’re in control of, you can do so much more and you will become really disciplined. Obviously being passionate about your work is also one of the greatest catalysts in order to stay motivated and get things done because as soon as you love your work it just becomes a lot easier to do.

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