I lack discipline. It’s new year’s eve, and if I had to choose one new year’s resolution it would be to gain discipline. I have many many things I want to do, but they all require discipline.
I also tried asking the Twitterverse just now:
Hello social-media-verse. How do you achieve self-discipline in a world of a million distractions? 'Cos I'm struggling. Any tips?— Robin Winslow (@nottrobin) December 31, 2015
A cacophony of passions
I have endless things I’d like to do, ranging from the mundane to the life-defining. Here are just a few:
- Write umpteen blog posts about politics, communications and feelings
- Improve my website
- Write some questionnaire software
- Give more to charity (and write about it)
- Buy and setup a NAS
- Develop my professional reputation
- Give more talks and presentations
- Take up a sport
- Learn the piano properly
- Become a journalist on the side
At the moment I act on impulse. Every now and then the impulse will flair up to start on something. Sometimes I add it to a todo list and then forget about it forever. Sometimes I start, get half-way through my task, and then drop it forever.
Always the problem is I get distracted by something else I suddenly care about more.
So the simplest way to remedy this is to give myself a schedule, and stick to it. If I just dedicated a block of time every day, or every week, to writing or achieving one of my other goals, it’d help no end.
I’ve tried. It’s difficult. Every time I make a concerted effort to sit down and do something, I get distracted by the internet. I’ll be like “I’ll just read Facebook for a sec”, and then someone will have shared an article on feminism, and suddenly that’s the new Thing I Care About Most In The World.
So, I should give myself a break from the internet while I work. But that requires self-discipline. Catch-22.
Small, focused motivation
So naturally I Googled what to do (since Google is how I procrastinate). I found two helpful articles, and a few points resonated with me:
Motivation is key
In one sense, motivation is my problem. I’m too motivated. I have so much that I wanna to, so as soon as I start on one thing, I think of something else important and so get distracted.
But this is partly because I have so many ideas things floating around in my head untethered. If I really took time to write down everything that I wanna do in my mind and put them in order, and chose to do one first, it might help to remove distractions while I’m working on that one thing.
Start extremely small
I should start off by working on my chosen project for only 5 minutes every day. Or maybe even 5 minutes every weekend. Inevitably this short amount of time will in reality be longer, but if I promise myself only this minimal amount then I won’t feel the pressure, the need to distract myself.
A strategy forms
Okay so my strategy isn’t that different from before. I’m still going to set aside time for doing my projects, and try to teach myself to do this regularly, but with three minor but hopefully important adjustments:
- Set really small targets - 5 minutes a weekend.
- Start off by writing down the things I want to do, and then put them in order, and only focus on the first one.
- Strictly don’t use the internet except for researching sources (I still don’t know how to make myself do this).
We’ll see how this strategy works out. I’ll try to write another post about how I get on. We’ll see if I have the discipline for it.