… allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity,

we may explain success mainly by one word

and that word is WORK!


Not transient and fitful effort,

but patient, enduring, honest,

unremitting and indefatigable work into

which the whole heart is put.

There is no royal road to perfection.

Frederick Douglass

Everyone’s life is cluttered with too things to do. Going to work, taking care of your home, ensuring that your children are safe and healthy, sustaining your connections with family and friends, and preserving your romantic relationship. On top of all that, it is necessary to take care of your own health and personal growth.

So, how can you expect to excel in life and accomplish your desired life goals? Some experts feel that it is in having self-discipline that is the key to your ability to getting things done. When you keep working on the things that you want to finish, you will accomplish great things.

Here are a few strategies to increase your self-discipline:

1. Get in the habit of making lists. Life is so jam-packed that it is almost impossible to rely solely on your memory to recall all the tasks you want, and need, to do. Accept the fact that, in order to be successful at getting things done, it will necessary to rely on lists.

  • Carry a small notebook with you. Call it your “Task List” or “Things to Do.” As soon as you think of tasks you want to complete, jot them down. Your task list notebook can be as simple or as complicated as you like.
  • A simple, effective method is to enter today’s date on the page’s left side and then list tasks as you think of them. When you fill a page, start listing on the next page. When you have completed and crossed off all tasks on a page, remove that page and discard it.
  • If you seem to have that one nagging task on a page that you are saving, re-write the task onto your current page and put the original date in parentheses after the task. That way, you will know you carried that task forward. Either complete it now or cross it off as unimportant.
  • If you are a little more techy-oriented, you may choose tontry a free system like Trello (not an affiliate link). I have used this and it is pretty simple to keep up with all of your short and long-term projects and tasks associated with them.

2. Prep the night before. Make a short list of things you want/ need to get done tomorrow. This evening before bed, jot down no more than 3 tasks you feel you must get done tomorrow. If you prefer, you can use this method without applying the notebook suggestion above.

  • For this method, I use a post-it note, no larger than 3×3. This quells the temptation to put too many things into the must-do category. This method also allows my subconscious mind to do a little creative work on the tasks at hand.
  • If you are more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” person, completing the short list of things to do the night before might be the single best method for you to build your self-discipline.

3. Celebrate! Give yourself some props when you are efficient at doing things. Allow yourself a moment to feel good about your accomplishment. Say, “Wow, I am really on fire today.” Why not stop for your favorite beverage to reinforce your efforts?

4. Get organized. The bane of existence for many of us is finding the tools we need to complete a task at hand quickly and efficiently. Know where your important tools are.

  • For example, have a specific drawer in the kitchen where you keep extra notepads, pencils, pens, scissors, stapler, and paper-clips so that if you need them, you can go directly to that drawer.
  • There’s an old expression that goes something like this: “Have a place for everything and put everything in its place and you will always be able to find them.” I hated that expression s a child, but it is true.

5. Time your activities. Use timers to complete those larger looming projects a few minutes at a time. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by the larger projects that you have been procrastinating on. You can finish them a little bit at a time. For example:

  • You bought those plastic drawers to put under your bathroom sink to store your extra cosmetics, lotions, hair products, and grooming necessities, but you just cannot seem to find the time to get the drawers into place, and to finally get things into the drawers.
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes and then sort things into the drawers until the timer sounds. Do this each day until you are finally done with the project. Congratulations! You are building your self-discipline bit by bit!

You are about to become one of the most self-disciplined people you know. Try applying a few of these methods and you are well on your way to efficiency, organization, and a self-disciplined life! You will be amazed with the amount of “extra” stuff you will be able to accomplish each day.

To your continued success!!

Photo Credit: Celestine Chua via Compfight cc

Read more: Ode to Discipline