What are some good ways to build strong self-discipline? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Nela Canovic, Productivity hacker, writer, entrepreneur in Silicon Valley:
Here's why building self-discipline is paramount to your success in life.
First, you learn to take full ownership of your day, which will give you the necessary time you need to work on your goals.
Second, you learn to prioritize what's relevant so that your brain can focus on top priority tasks before anything else.
And third, you give yourself the freedom to learn new things, build your skill set, and achieve mastery in any discipline that you choose.
There are many ways to build self-discipline, which is a good thing. If you're curious about what it takes, or you're looking for ideas, the best way to approach it is to start with a few simple hacks and then practice them daily.
Here are 5 hacks to get you started.
Discipline hack #1. Train your brain to be focused as soon as you wake up.
Start your day with this question: "What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?" This technique trains your brain to focus on which goals are important to you right now, and it forces you to prioritize the goal you believe to be the most relevant in this moment. How do you start? Put it in writing. Write it in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall. Read it out loud as you start your day, for example as you're brushing your teeth or getting ready for work or school. Come up with an answer on the spot and answer it out loud. Then follow up by taking action: focus your energy throughout the day to completing your one thing.
Discipline hack #2. Do hard work first before you do anything for pleasure.
It's not unusual if your day starts like this: you give in to the urge to start your morning by checking email and social media apps on your phone and sending messages back and forth with your friends. That's a waste of time! Mornings are the ideal time of day to get the hardest work out of the way. The best part is that it's not hard to make this change. How do you start? Make the most of your mornings by building a habit of doing your hard work early. It will help you deal with the feelings of procrastination whenever you have to study for an exam or finish up a project for work. Even better: it will improve your focus and concentration so that your brain can do its brilliant work more efficiently and effectively than any other time of day.
Discipline hack #3. Practice delayed gratification.
It may not seem like such a great choice at first, but putting off doing what makes you feel great and gives you pleasure has its advantages. It's about instilling a good dose of self-discipline so that you do something difficult first in order to reward yourself later. There's even science to back this up: Stanford University's Marshmallow experiment showed how delayed gratification can increase your chance at succeeding in many areas of your life. How do you start practicing this? It's not as hard as it sounds. For example, if you want to watch a movie or go out with friends, leave it for the evening after you have completed what you planned to work on during the day. And if you don't finish it, don't assume you'll do it at midnight after you're done having fun.
Discipline hack #4. Get rid of all distractions that stand in your way.
It's really hard to focus on what we are currently doing because our attention moves to little things we notice around us. Distractions can easily make you slip from your work. When you turn off what distracts you, you have a better chance to actually do what's important. How do you start? Try these easy strategies. First, set your phone to Airplane mode when you need to focus. Next, let those around you (family members, friends, or roommates) know you won't be available in the next few hours. Check your email and social media apps only 2-3 times a day (start around lunchtime and then check them later in the day). Avoid browsing the Internet or reading the daily news; close all tabs in your browser to avoid temptations to take just one look.
Discipline hack #5. Learn to manage your thoughts better.
On any given day, you might easily have thousands of thoughts bouncing around in your mind, and let's face it, a lot of them are not exactly sunny and happy ones. They can also be negative, self-critical, dismissive, they can focus on past failures or tap into your insecurities. The good news is this: even though you may think it, you are not your thoughts. You are much bigger than your thoughts! And there are ways to manage your thoughts more successfully and even change your entire mindset. How do you start? Try a quick, 10-minute meditation to calm your thoughts. And if you'd like to make a change in your way of thinking, read Carol Dweck's book, Mindset; it can impact your entire attitude and the way you think about your strengths, skills, and success in life.