Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Self-Discipline in Your Workday

By Kristen Burgess

Productivity and success depend on discipline - that's a fact. It's also a fact that nobody else is going to come along and make you do what you need to do to succeed. You have to do it yourself - you must have self-discipline. If you lack this vital trait you'll find yourself completely dependent on others for external motivation - and you'll probably be pretty lazy, too. You lose respect in the eyes of your coworkers, friends, and employer.

There's an old term called "setting yourself to a task." It expresses what self-discipline is nicely. It's the ability to determine a task for yourself and get down to work on it - without needing anybody else to prod you along or make you work. You know something needs to be done, so you get it done.

You can start building self-discipline in yourself by getting the clock's help. Create a routine or schedule for your day and stick to it. Draw it up and when the clock says it's time to work, you work. When the clock says it's time for a break, you can take a break. When it says it's time to eat, go ahead and eat. You can use timers to help yourself, too.

If you really need help staying on task, this is the way to go. Just do what your schedule says. If that seems too rigid for you but you still need a little bit of help, create routines for certain parts of the day - for instance, what you do when you get up in the morning (including what time you drag yourself out of bed).

Stick to your schedule or routine and don't allow interruptions or getting side-tracked. These are external self-discipline tools you put in place for yourself. Stick to them.

Do remember that you need to give yourself breaks. Pushing yourself too hard will lead to burnout, so make taking a break here and there a priority. After two or three hours of working take a break and get up and walk around the block. Take a real break to eat - eat your meal and read a book, or eat then go for a walk. Do something to get away from your work a bit. Enjoy days off fully - go and have fun without dwelling on work.

These will give you a chance to recharge and come back to your with focus.

Remember to watch for distractions. Turn off or get rid of things that distract you. Avoid multi-tasking.

Self-discipline will be much easier for you if you learned it as a child, but even if you had a fairly responsibility-free childhood and struggle with discipline now, you can learn the habits you need. Remove distractions and set up external controls.

It is OK to ask for help with accountability if you're really struggling. If you have a project you're working on, ask a close friend, your spouse, or even your mom to hold you accountable. Each time you talk to that person on the phone they can ask you if you've worked on it. Just knowing that someone else is holding you accountable can help you develop self-discipline and persistence.