I am really bad at disciplining myself. Like, really bad. Right now I’m supposed to be revising for a Chemistry exam and instead I’m writing this blog post.
Yet I managed once to write 127,000 words in about two and a half weeks. So I must have been doing something right.
I know how to discipline myself, I just don’t do it. Here are my steps – maybe you’ll have more success following them than I do:
- Get up earlier. Even if you think you’re a ‘night’ person, generally it’s easier to get distracted in the evenings. There are more programmes on TV, more people on the internet to talk to, and more videos have been uploaded to YouTube that you want to watch. If you get up in the mornings, you’ll be able to get something done before any of these distractions appear. And when I say earlier, I mean – if you’ve got a day off, start work at half nine anyway. If you have to go to school or work, get up at half six, be there an hour before you start, and write for an hour. Seriously. It works.
- Disable the internet for a while. It’s the biggest distraction there is. If you need it for some reason (like, really need it), I advise downloading one of those little programs that blocks websites you shouldn’t be on for a certain period of time. If you have a Mac, I believe it’s called SelfControl – for PC users, it’s SelfRestraint. (And has some bugs, which I’ll cover in another post.)
- Write yourself a timetable. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I generally find that if I want to get things done and not feel like I’ve not had any time to myself at all ever, I write a timetable that tells me when I must start and – more importantly – when I can stop. This means that throughout my two hours or so of work, I’m thinking, Just have to carry on until four, then I can stop…
- Rewards! Okay, I’ll admit, this doesn’t really work for me. Punishments work better for me. Tell yourself that if you write 2,000 words you’ll have a bar of chocolate or, if you’re like me, that if you don’t write it you have to do press-ups or something. Unless you’re a fitness freak. In which case you may want to reverse those.
- Tell people what you’re doing. Not only will they then nag you to get on with writing / Chemistry revision / other, you’ll also feel bad if you don’t get it done as you’ll have to admit that to them. So you’ll do it to stop them nagging you and so you’ve got something to show for it when they ask. Win.
- Stop writing blog posts and get on with whatever you’re supposed to be doing. Ten steps? That’ll take you far too long. You’re supposed to be working. Close the web browser, disable the internet, and get working. What do you mean, you promised ten steps? Don’t be ridiculous. Go. And. Work.
Oh dear… I think my steps just mutinied on me. I suppose I’ll have to go and work now.
What are your techniques for getting things done and staying focused on the task at hand?