We all aim to be more productive, and must have tried various techniques like learning, coaching sessions and maybe even sipping extra coffee to remain focused. But the underlying reason could be something different. It could be because of our lack of discipline. The temptation to constantly check social networking sites or the next WhatsApp notification could be affecting the concentration and effectiveness.
Discipline is typically considered good and desirable, but it can also become a burden if not implemented correctly. But building discipline can largely increase your productivity.
Let’s explore how.
My Journey Of Becoming More Disciplined
I recall struggling to wake up early and on-time for meditation, and also having a less focus at work because of constant distraction by WhatsApp messages and notifications. So, it was a burning need for me to inculcate discipline in these two areas of my life: meditation and work.
Meditation, which I started pursuing seriously during lockdown, and although there were initial challenges in building consistency, now I have reached a stage where I love it and do it daily. Although there are multiple techniques which I employed to get to this stage, one important and contributing factor has been building self discipline.
I would occasionally wake up at different times and often late, and so it was difficult to get the mind to rhythm and build consistency. So I had to work on having discipline to get up at a fixed time. Now I wake up every day at 7 am, freshen up and then begin my mediation session around 8 am. The discipline and daily meditation, has now become part of me.
The second area, where I wanted to build discipline, was controlling my temptation to check WhatsApp messages. While I am not very active on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the likes, frequent checking of WhatsApp messages was somewhere affecting my focus at work. Actually, I admit it was more of an addiction. This lead to frequent context switching and distraction, affecting my productivity.
How To Build Self-Discipline
A key to developing discipline is to create a plan. If you know what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them, then it will be easier for you to stay disciplined. Here is a simple yet effective step-by-step process:
Identify The Goal: Identify what inspires you, what is it you desire for, and what gives you purpose? Since I had the desire and passion to learn meditation, I could overcome my laziness and build discipline. So the first step is to identify your innate desire and what is it you wish to achieve. Your goal, your passion.
Repeat (Optional): You could repeat the above step and list down three goals or desires. But I strongly recommend to not go beyond the count of three. Adding too many goals and trying to pursue them all at once may soon leave you exhausted, where you may give it up all-together.
Break Into Sub-goals: Break your goal into smaller sub-goals that are achievable and manageable. Like when I was trying to wake up early, I did it in increments to 15 mins to eventually reach to my target of getting up 1 hour early. So if you are trying to exercise for 1 hour, start with say 15 mins and gradually keep on increasing in increments of 15 mins. The mind needs time to prepare, and whenever you achieve a smaller goal, it gives the mind a boost and motivates it to do it further.
Setting Target: Target is essentially setting a time duration. Set realistic targets for these sub-goals. If you set too unrealistic targets, you will lose the motivation and may not eventually succeed. Remember, here we are trying to change an existing habit and build new ones. It takes time.
Create An Action Plan: Create an action plan for getting started by using the tools you need, like how much time you will spend working on it every day and whether you’ll work on it in your office or at home
Same Place, Same Time: Set up a specific time and place to do the task. This helps to build consistency, prepare the mind, and get it into a rhythm.
Overcome Limiting Beliefs: This will require constant backing from your willpower, because as you progress, the mind will try to downplay you. This is because of the innate tendency of the mind, wherein it goes into thinking negatively and finding reasons not to change.
Don’t Be Too Strict: Even if you cannot keep up with your plan for a day or two, it’s just okay. Don’t get into a self cursing mode. Forgive yourself and move ahead.
Reward Yourself: Setting up a reward for yourself at every achievement of the sub-task will help you stay motivated. It gives a positive impetus and signal to the mind to keep repeating.
Building self-discipline does not come naturally for many people, but with the above steps, it can be achieved. People who are successful at achieving their goals often find some way to make them fun and rewarding.
So in which area do you wish to build Self-Discipline?