Mental health

Cultivating Self-Discipline: A Path to Overcoming Procrastination

Self-Discipline. In the past, I’ve had many days where I sat in front of my computer, I wanted to work and just didn’t manage to down a single step.

After a few more minutes of staring at my screen in hopes of the computer working itself, I started to come up with all sorts of excuses :

-I’m not feeling inspired today.

-Maybe I’m just too tired.

-It’s not the right time to do this.

I decided to drop the work for the day and look for another activity that wouldn’t take me any effort. I would find myself scrolling through my phone, watching another series on Netflix, or napping at the side of my bed. No matter if you have to study for an exam, prepare a business presentation, or write a letter for a job application, we all know those times when our motivation is nowhere to be found.

Resistance & Self-Discipline

In general, our lives can be divided into two distinct parts – the life we ​​are living now and the life we ​​want to live. Or in other words, our current situation and our dreams and aspirations. And 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 now, it is never that easy to do the work because there is something called resistance in between those two sides.

In the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, he emphasizes the existence of a universal force called Resistance, which has its own purpose—to maintain the status quo. It’s a force that will halt the individual’s creative activity by any means necessary, whether it’s to rationalize, to stir up fear and anxiety, to point out other distractions that need attention,  the voice of the inner critic agrees uplift and much more.

 Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, and that is self-discipline.. As Samuel Thomas Davies 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.”

I will to share the 4 most important tips which helped you overcome procrastination, build self-discipline and actually get things done.

1- Remove Temptations

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.

That would be two different work blocks throughout the day, so…

It would be from 8 until 12 a.m.,

And from 1 :30 until 7 p.m.,

And in these time frames, you must 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 ?

Close the door, this will hold chatty colleagues back from popping their head in and distracting you, and overall, it will just lower the amount of noise.

Alternatively, you can also just use noise-cancelling headphones, which eliminate any noise around you, and also, it just shows other people that you’re doing some focused work and you just don’t wanna 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. For me, it is emails. I just close my email program and let these emails accumulate over time, and then I have a specific time where I just get back to all of these emails and I reply to them in a batch, which is a lot more time-efficient and doesn’t impact my 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, like, one of the most common excuses that everybody uses in terms of creative work, and I’ve used it a hundred times back in the day. 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 3 things, inspiration, motivation, and action. 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 like 5 minutes, you will be in a good flow of work and you will actually enjoy it.

And this applies to everything in life, not only creative work but also fitness or talking to strangers, basically anything. This is a really helpful tip: just get started.

3-Prioritize Your Time

 I don’t think “I don’t have time” is an excuse because time is about priorities.And if you actually want to achieve your goals, you have to make them a priority and pass on other activities. And one thing that’s really great for prioritizing time, and also scheduling your time throughout the day, is to write to-do lists. I do a list every single morning, where I just sit down, and where write down the most important tasks that I want to get done today. 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.

you should just write down “apply for 3 jobs”.

Just try to create very concrete to-do’s that you can actually achieve and take off. And also, try to keep them realistic, because taking off these different to-do 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.

4-External Independence

Focus on what you are in control of. In my opinion, this is the most important mindset when it comes to building self-discipline, and to living an overall happy life. I truly believe in this. So every person has something which is called their “locus of control“.

You can either have an external or an internal locus of control. If you have an external locus of control, you believe that the events of your life are a result of external forces, while if you have an internal locus of control, you believe that the events of your life are a result of your own actions.

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.

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.

Remember, building self-discipline takes time and consistent effort. Be patient with yourself, persevere through setbacks, and celebrate your progress along the way. With dedication and practice, you can develop the self-discipline needed to overcome procrastination and achieve your goals.

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