How to improve motivation and self-discipline

Have you ever sat down at your desk in the morning, full of good intentions about the day ahead? You rearrange your notepads into the order of the rainbow, then your sharpen all your pencils. You realise that you’ve not had a coffee yet, so you quickly go and make one. You might as well make one for everyone else in the office. Whilst taking coffee orders you find out what Janice was up to at the weekend, and listen to how Bob’s newborn is still keeping him up all night! Before you know it, it’s mid-morning, and you still haven’t really done any work. Familiar?!

This article gives some simple steps you can take to help improve your self-discipline and motivation, so that you can be your most productive.

Plan your day

First thing in the morning (or even the night before) work out all the things that you need to get done that day. Once you have your list, you can use a technique called time-blocking. This is where you block out chunks of time in the day where you will focus on specific tasks. This dedicated time will ensure that you get those tasks done. Don’t time-block your day so much that there is no flexibility. Try and leave some space, so if some tasks over-run you can accommodate them. If you finish a task before the end of your blocked time, then reward yourself with a trip to the coffee machine.

Eat the frog

Eating the frog is basically doing the task that you don’t want to do first. If you have a task that you know will hang over you all day, but you don’t particularly enjoy, or is difficult or frustrating, it’s likely to zap all your motivation. Try to ‘eat the frog’ first thing. You’ll feel chuffed with yourself, you won’t dread doing it all day, and it’s likely to increase your motivation for other tasks.

Remove distractions

Distractions can be one of the biggest barriers to self discipline. We’ve all experienced that familiar ‘ping’ when an email comes through and we think we’ll just check it quickly, then half an hour later we are still in the inbox. Or, you think that you’ll just quickly check your social media before starting the next task, and we get stuck in the scroll-hole. The easiest thing to do is remove the distractions completely; close your emails down, put your phone in another room. Whatever it is, removing those distractions will definitely help with your motivation.

Set a timer

If you are really daunted by the task ahead then using a timer can be really motivating. Set a timer for 20 minutes to focus solely on one task and see how much you can get done. This really concentrates the mind, and the short period of time ensures that you are not overwhelmed and you know that it will end. Give it a go!

Be kind to yourself

Finally, be kind to yourself. There are all sorts of reasons that you might be lacking self-discipline and motivation. If it is on-going, it’s important to try and figure out why. If you are approaching burn out your motivation is likely to be particularly low, and maybe you need to book a holiday, or take some time away from the desk. Try to figure out the reason and work out exactly what you need to come back refreshed and motivated.