Wednesday, December 3, 2014

11 Ways To Increase Your Discipline And Get Things Done

The Struggle

Is today the same as yesterday, last week, last year?

You've heard it too many times.

"You just need to be more disciplined".

You have tried it all. Planners, positive reinforcement, rewards, punishment. You have read books, talked to friends.

And yet, you still do nothing.

Sometimes you find the discipline, but soon enough, it disappears, hidden, gone like a ghost in the night.

And then the next day comes, and once again you find yourself perusing Facebook, sending emails, and watching TV. But in your heart you know you want more.

You know there is more to your life than this.

What if discipline wasn't simply a magical gift some have and some don't?

What if there were actual steps you could take that would drastically increase your follow through?

What if you could start being the person, you know you should be...

A Day in My Life

So over the past month I have been getting a lot of questions regarding discipline.

Let me share with you what my life entails.

Everyday I wake up between 5 and 6 am.

I write, I train, and I recommit each morning.

I exercise 6 days a week, often train in Aikido 5 days a week, write at minimum 3 blog posts per week, reply to every email within 48 hours, read a book a week (on average), call my parents weekly, hang out with friends multiple times per week, teach English, take online courses, and most importantly I also play some video games.

Now, is when the appropriate response would be:

”Thanks for telling me all the things you do in your day. That was really interesting. Hey did I forget to tell you? You Suck."


Yeah, kind of.

But not really.

It would appear that is a lot of things to get done. And yes it is.

It does require discipline to make that happen. But it is different then you think.  

The Incredibly Irony

I am not disciplined. I go into my house and I look at the floor. Yeah, I should throw that bag in the trash... I'll do it later.

I'll pay that bill tomorrow.

Taxes suck balls.

Yet, when it counts I get it done.

So, lately I have been paying a lot of attention to what allows me to get things done. Here is what I have concluded:

I’m not disciplined, So I have to be disciplined.

How's that for absurd?

Since I lack discipline I have a variety of strategies and techniques that I use to keep me focused everyday. If I was disciplined I wouldn't have to use all these techniques.

In a lot of ways I feel like a really bad math student who loves trying to be great at math.

Since it doesn't come natural I have to discover the exact process and steps to make it happen.

Some people are just naturally disciplined. I am not one of them.

I have identified the thoughts and actions that allow me to be highly productive on a daily basis.

I want to share these with you today.

But before I do that, I have to express one thing.

The Power of Passion

Unfortunately passion has turned into a buzzword that immediately turns people off. In fact, you might have wanted to stop reading the second you saw that header. But here is the simple truth:

Passion creates a massive driving force.

Are you more likely to do something that is fun or boring? You better know the answer to this...

Passion is crazy because not only does it make my life and work fun but it also gives the insanely powerful foundation of intense and deep purpose.
But I don't Know My Passion

So let's say you don't know your passion. Does this mean you are SOL?

No! Not at all. It simply means you need to start participating in things you like.

I am a believer that we must "like" before we can "love".

So when we step forward to discover our passion it makes sense to begin doing things you enjoy and like. Start with "liking" and allow it to naturally evolve into love.

So, with that said let's move on, shall we :).
I Practice What I Preach

Below I share 11 strategies that allow me to be very disciplined.

My policy at The 30 Year Old Ninja is that everything I share, I do. I don't speculate. I know this stuff works - because I do it.

11 Ways To Increase Your Discipline and Get Things Done
1. I have a very strong and deep purpose

In everything that I do, I make sure I understand exactly why I am doing it. I wake up everyday at 5am to write and train. But this isn't because I am Mr. Discipine. It is because I have a very deep seeded reason for getting up.

I have created a vision for my life, broken them down into goals, and then have turned those into daily objectives. I know why I am taking action everyday.

Why are you doing what you are doing?

Will what you are doing right now get you where you want to be in 6 months?

If the answer is "Yes" then keep doing it.

If the answer is "No", it doesn't mean you need to stop it, but it does mean you need to try and incorporate some activities that have the long term impact.
2. I have identified my most effective time of the day

Through trial and error I have discovered that my mind is the most free and creative in the early mornings. So I do most of my writing and big projects at that time. I leave more straight forward tasks to the afternoons.

How do you discover this? It's simple. Just identify your more challenging projects and try to get them done at different times of the day.

But make sure to give each time slot at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. If you can't seem to focus for 30 minutes... Well, then this is obviously not your most effective time of the day.

When are you most effective?
3. I start every morning with inspirational material

Every morning, I wake up and immediately either watch an inspiring video or listen to inspiring audio. What I listen to changes based on my current interests.

But it always fires me up.

Sometimes it deals with living a better life. Other times, it deals with becoming a better writer.

By the time 6 am comes around I am fired up and ready to take on the day.

You can head on over to Audible and get a membership account (Yes, I have one and it it AWESOME!). Right now they are offering a pretty awesome deal.

Most audiobooks range from $30 to $50, but Audible is offering a deal to get 1 audiobook a month for $7.95 per month for the first 3 months.

Listening to inspiring audio has changed my life, my attitude, and my sense of purpose.

We are all vulnerable to burn out or just feeling tired. This is why I believe it is so critical to take action everyday to find motivation. The power of doing this everyday can be crazy powerful over time :).

What are you doing to motivate yourself everyday?

4. I have a consistent routine

I do not have the discipline to follow through on a new and different routine everyday. Instead, I spend virtually zero time thinking about "What should I do?" Because my routine is very consistent. Especially when I first wake up.

Everyday I wake up, put on some inspiring audio, eat breakfast, train, then write.

It is so consistent that it feels weird if I don't do this.

Do you have a consistent routine every morning?
5. Once a week I sit down and reflect on my process.

On Monday mornings (it used to be Sunday for you long time readers) I sit down and reflect on the previous week. I sit down and critically think about the following 2 questions:

1) What were my successes? Why was I successful?

2) What things didn't I get done? Why didn't I get them done?

Then I adjust my behavior based on what I learn. This alone has had a profound impact. This allows me to learn from all my failures and successes. I repeat those behaviors that lead to success and remove those behaviors that prevent success.

What should you keep doing? What behaviors do you need to change?
6. I set time aside where I refuse to do any work

This recharges me. I do zero work on Sundays. This is powerful because it allows me to completely recharge. I don't exercise, I don't train, I don't write.

I play video games, read books, call people, and watch NFL football
This also gives me a time in the week where I know I will no longer do any work. It is exciting and a time in the week I always look forward to. But I only look forward to it because I have earned that time.

7. I learn from my bad days.

Like everyone, I have those days that I just struggle to get things done. I don't get down on myself. Instead, I ask "Why did I struggle?" Sometimes I gain some great insights.

Everything I am sharing in this post was discovered because of my bad days.

At the same time I have to throw this out there - there are days when there are no reasons. Somedays I am just off. Don't think too hard about it but do try and learn from those days that you struggle.

8. I connect with other inspiring, disciplined people

At minimum 3 times per week I talk with other disciplined inspiring people.

We don't sit and talk about discipline - that would be boring! We discuss what is happening in our lives. The very nature of this always inspires me. I love talking to people who are making big things happen because it forces me to up my game and it is inspiring.

Find people in your life that inspire you and attempt to connect with them.
9. I NEVER multitask.

Some people claim to be great multi takers. I'm not one of them. I zone in on one thing at a time and just do that. Only as of late have I started eating food while on the phone (and even this is hard for me).

When I write I give it my full attention. When it is time to train I solely focus on training. When I am reading a book the TV and computer are off. Anything I do, I give it my full attention.

Some people claim they get more done with multi-tasking.

I’m sorry but I don't believe them.

Yes, you may enjoy multi-tasking and you may get things done this way. But this doesn't mean that you are more efficient than if you focused on 1 single task. It just means you like to multitask.
10. When I can foresee a bad day I shift my focus to getting 1 major thing done.

There are somedays that I can tell are going to be a struggle. When this happens I don't call it quits. Instead I focus on getting one big thing done.

Somedays we are just off.

So, if I can get one big thing done on those days it is a huge game changer. Sometimes this means taking a long run, writing a new blog post, or training for a few hours.

What is that 1 major thing you can focus on today?
11. I play video games on Sunday.

Every Sunday I sit down and play video games. How is this connected to discipline?

This is an example of an activity that recharges me. I sit back relax, and just enjoy the game. In doing this, when I wake up on Monday morning I feel more refreshed and ready to take on the week.

We have to find time to do things that we just enjoy. Video games are this for me.
Final Thoughts

When we step forward to follow our dreams and make our lives awesome discipline is a big deal.

But I do not believe that discipline is something that "some people just have" and others don't. I believe, just like everything else, it is a skill that can be developed over time.