One problem that many procrastinators share is that they don’t have self-discipline. Luckily, there are some ways you can develop it. First, work during your best times. Chart your energy levels over a day’s work. Divide your day into two hour segments and note whether your energy levels are high, moderate, or low. Repeat this across the week to give you a picture of your average working day.
Then schedule your most important work for your best hours, when you’re most energetic. Let’s work through an example. An IT consultant who’s prone to procrastination has decided to change her ways. She analyses her energy levels and finds that she works best between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. So she schedules her most difficult tasks for that time.
The next way to develop discipline is to stop thinking and just get started. Planning is important, but eventually you have to get the work done, otherwise you’re just using the planning process to avoid the job. So that IT consultant is managing a network infrastructure changeover for a client. She’s made a plan, but instead of getting going, she asks some contacts for ideas and spends a week weighing the pros and cons of their opinions.
In the end, she sticks with her original plan, so that week was time wasted. That moves us onto the third way to be more self-disciplined. Make neatness a habit. Invest some time in neatness and you’ll soon save time by not having to search for things. Keep your desk and computer tidy. Create digital and paper filing systems and keep them up to date.
Our IT consultant friend has a tidy computer already, but her desk is a mess. She makes time one afternoon to get things cleaned up. And from then on, she can quickly lay her hands on everything she needs. The final strategy for self-discipline is to focus on finishing. Don’t get bogged down in perfectionism.
It’s good to want the work to be excellent, but you have to be able to let go of a task, too. Also, don’t get distracted by new tasks. Get your current work done before you start something else. It can help to reward yourself to keep motivated, so you could promise yourself a break after you’ve reached a target.
Our IT consultant’s making a plan for a company system upgrade. She works solidly, rewarding herself with a decaf mocha every time she finishes three sections. Another client calls for a consult, but she schedules a future call for when she’s finished, and she keeps going until the job is done instead of second guessing herself and adding bells and whistles.
If you want to get things done, when you feel like giving up, you need to act on what you think instead of what you feel. Build self-discipline and that’s what you’ll be able to do.
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