Consistent timing can actually make your brain want to work. Start by setting aside specific time constraints for one activity. Let’s say you plan on showering from 8:15-8:30. If you do this every day, your body and brain will get accustomed to showering right then; before you know it, you will start craving a shower every time 8:15 rolls around. Why? Because our brains love routines.
Routines mean that we can stop thinking and just function automatically. By blocking out times for work, food, and exercise you can develop healthy routines that will stick around for life.
You will never build self-discipline by randomly doing things that you don’t want to. You need something to motivate your brain otherwise, it’s way too easy to quit. Without a reward your brain gets lazy. It won’t feel like working because there’s nothing positive to look forward to.
Ideally, your deals and ambitions are enough motivation. But that isn’t always the case. Even if you have great aspirations, you still might feel like your work isn’t worth doing. Either way, you can use small rewards to slowly train your brain.
For this trick you can use almost any reward. I recommend picking something that isn’t too unhealthy or expensive because you are going to use it pretty often at first. The only actual rule is that you only get this particular reward after finishing your work.
Psychologists call this trick operant conditioning - Specifically positive reinforcement. In other words, you train your brain by rewarding your own positive behaviours. It helps train dogs, teach kids and it will help you become a more disciplined worker.
If you are having trouble sticking to your goals, try writing them down. Writing helps you learn by forcing you to process each and every piece of information.
Unlike just listening, writing requires concentration, sensory engagement, and heightened brain activity. This is why written things are much easier to remember and internalize.
Writing down your goals also gives you something physical to keep you motivated. If the ideas are all in your head, you might ignore or forget about them.
By creating a list, you bring your goals to life. Goals don’t feel real when they are floating around in your head. But once your goals have some sort of physical form, they become much harder for your brain to ignore.
You can also trick your mind by sharing your goals with others. After writing them down, read your goals to a friend or family member. Tell them why you set each goal and when you want to have them accomplished.
No matter, what your goals are, this strategy can have a tremendous impact on your motivation and discipline. Just look at this study from 2015. The researchers split over 260 participants into two groups. The first group was asked to share a list of their short-term goals with a friend. The second group, on the other hand, was told to keep their goals to themselves. The data showed that 70% of the first group accomplished their goals compared to only 35% of the second group.
Why is this so effective? By telling someone about your goals, you create expectations. When people expect things of us we feel added pressure to get them done. You can easily justify laziness to yourself, but it’s much harder to explain your failures to someone else.
Failure is a natural and important piece of success. Without it you will never learn, innovate or grow. So why do you let failure ruin your work ethic? Failing can actually help you become a more discipline person but you have to forgive yourself first.
When you make a mistake it’s easy to feel discouraged. You might never take risks because you’re scared of messing up again. When you try new things, you probably hold yourself to impossibly high standards. You think you will do it perfectly the first time and then lose hope when that doesn’t happen. You can’t hold those mistakes against yourself. Every goal or project is a learning experience, so practice forgiving yourself and discovering how you can improve.
Have you ever finished a project that just didn’t feel right? You probably spent hours making tiny adjustments in the hopes that one change will somehow make it perfect. Deep down, you know that there are bigger problems, but you probably don’t want to fix them. Maybe you are too attached to throw anything away or maybe you are just being lazy.
Either way, you can and should use this situation to build self-discipline. When you first finish the project and realize that you don’t like it at all, start from scratch. Don’t waste hours of your time trying to fix every little thing. Put your first attempt aside and come at the project from a new perspective.
It’ll require more work, but starting over will show you the flaws in your first draft and help you create a better product.
You can easily trick your mind into being more disciplined by removing any and all distractions. Let’s say that you are creating a power-point, every time you start working on a slide, your phone dings so you check our messages. You type out a quick response and get back to your slide….until your phone dings again. Without realizing it, you’ve spent more time texting than actually working.
Simply leave your phone in a different room. The key is to put it somewhere you can’t see it. Once it’s out of your sight, it will be out of your mind. When you remove the possibility of being distracted, you trick your brain into being more productive.
Why does this work so well? Because it reduces the number of things you have to think about. To create the best product you need to focus on one thing. Humans are generally terrible multi-taskers. We like to think that we can do two things at once but the quality significantly decreases.
In other words, if you are thinking about what’s happening on social media, your work will suffer. For this strategy to work remember to remove distractions ahead of time. This way when work inevitably wears you down there won’t be any distractions to lead you astray.
There is never a perfect time to work especially if you tend to procrastinate. People frequently stall by convincing themselves that it isn’t the right time or environment. They say things like I’ll start working after lunch only to make the same excuse when that time comes.
The truth is if you don’t want to work now, you probably won’t want to later. And that is okay. Discipline is often about working when you don’t want to.
So, do yourself a favour - Push through the laziness and come out the other side with something to be proud of.
Why? Because it teaches your brain that it is more rewarding to work than it is to stall. It also builds your tolerance for uncomfortable immersions like boredom or frustrations. Both of these are crucial for a disciplined mind, so keep this up each time you start procrastinating.
To build self-discipline you need enough will power to restrain your unhealthy impulses. Will power stops you from eating another cookie. It keeps you from wasting hours browsing social media or watching tv.
Many people believe that it is something that you are born with. Some people have lots of will power while others aren’t so lucky.
Psychologists from Stanford University have proven otherwise. They have shown that you determine how much will-power you have. Why? Because will power is actually a physical process.
It’s our body’s natural reaction to conflict. When we have to make a decision will power overrides our distractive urges and re-directs energy to productive parts of our brains.
You can increase will power by improving sleep, nutrition and stress relief. These 3 components give you the energy and alertness to resolve conflicts and avoid temptations. If you want to fool your brain into working harder, get a good night’s sleep, eat right and keep stress to a minimum.
Plans help you develop discipline by reducing the number of choices you have to make. When you are half-way through a big project, choices can be detrimental. They clutter your brain with insignificant details. They create opportunities to get distracted. You often spend so much time thinking about what to do or how to do it that you don’t actually do anything.
Luckily, there is an easy solution. Write out a plan and stick to it. At the very beginning, you should establish what you want to get accomplished. Figure out the steps that you need to take to get there. You can even write down how much time you want each step to take. The more thorough you are the easier your work is going to be.
When you start working, follow your plan. Don’t let yourself get side-tracked. Don’t try to take your work in a new direction. If you drive into uncharted territory, you are going to get lost and disorganized.
By following your plan, you eliminate all big-picture decisions. You allow your brain to focus on individual tasks. You don’t need to worry about how each item aligns with your goals. But here is the best part. Good plans create a start line and a finish line. So, when you cross that finish line, you know you are done. You don’t have to worry that your product isn’t ready, just put your work away and be proud of what you have accomplished.