Structure - How To Be Self-Disciplined

Have you ever woken up with no motivation? With no urge to follow up on the goals you set for yourself? You should be happy to hear that even the most productive people in the world often feel the same. In fact, the feeling of dread is more common than the feeling of invigoration. It’s more pleasant for the brain to wander than it is for it to perform challenging cognitive work - so it’s incentivized to work against you.

You can diminish this problem by introducing more structure in your life. In other words, you should carefully design your daily life, so you have a clear picture of what you have to do at all times. When you know what to do, and when, there no longer is a debate - all that is left is clear, actionable directions. With enough practice, and habit building, you will no longer have to rely on fickle motivation; you will just have to follow the instructions you set for yourself. The more routine your day becomes, the easier it will be to follow it.

For example, without structure, it’s easy to succumb to the excuses that will naturally arise when beginning the work: “I’m not sure if I should be doing this task,” or “this task can wait until later,” or even “oh, my show is airing right now.” With structure, it’s simple: “7:00 AM to 8:30 AM - Work on task X.” There is no debate. You know what to do. You just have to show up.

Nonetheless, keep in mind, life is dynamic. Expecting to follow your schedule 100% is a near-impossible goal. Don't get disappointed if something doesn't go according to the plan. Roll with the punches, and get back on track.

“Motivation is fickle. It comes and goes. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.” — Jocko Willink

Action steps

  • Establish a time block in the morning during which you can work uninterrupted.
  • Set and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Even on the weekends.
  • Create a to-do list. Keep track of all the tasks you have to do.
  • Utilize the calendar. Use it to record time-based commitments.
  • Keep it simple. Focus on one goal at a time. The more narrow your focus, the better. 
  • Keep it small. Break down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks.


Related Resources

(This article is part four of Productivity Principles) - [Previous / Next]