The enemies of discipline

Photo courtesy of SuperFantastic (Creative Commons)

Procrastination. Resistance. Laziness.

These are the adversaries I fight against almost every morning. I get up early, grab my coffee, and sit down at my computer to write. I assure myself that I have discipline because I’m up early. Don’t you agree?

But then Resistance rears his ugly head by getting me distracted from writing. The inbox is full, so I go through it to reduce the distraction, but not completely, debate on paying some bills, go through old mail. Basically, I start and stop a bunch of things, none of which is urgent and none of which involves writing.

Ok, back to writing. I open my browser, since I might need to look something up online, I’m tempted to check Facebook, just for a minute. You do it too, don’t you?  Ten minutes later, I shake off that feeling of lethargy and refocus on my document. After all, I’m disciplined and ready to write.

I hear a little voice wondering if any urgent emails came in during the night – oh, right, I need to just make sure. So I launch Outlook and take a peek. Then I get a refill on my coffee.

There has been plenty written on discipline and combating procrastination and what author Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” (with a capital “R”) in his books The War of Art and Turning Pro. Unfortunately, there is not a long-term fix, as each day brings a new battle.

Writing is work, and I can’t wait on some fluffy perfect stimulus or flash of insight. Writing is hard work, plain and simple. There are cues and habits I can develop, but it all boils down to the fact that I have to show up and do it. Every day. No exceptions.

And whether you work at writing or another kind of project, I have found a few tricks that help me stay focused:

  • Set a goal – whether that is to write a certain number of words or to complete a specific portion of a project.
  • Remove distractions – you’ve heard this before, but turn off email notifications, disable your Twitter or Facebook alerts, and close the door.
  • Don’t kick yourself – if you do get sidetracked, don’t berate yourself. Just refocus and try again.
  • Do it again – once you have hunkered down and accomplished your goal, set another goal and keep moving forward (of course, maybe celebrate a little bit first…)

How do you combat these “enemies” of productivity?

2 thoughts on “The enemies of discipline

  1. I still find myself getting distracted and sidetracked. I have goals set, but I think I do better when I write them down and keep them in front of me. I also need to stop myself from trying multitask – I know it doesn’t work.

    • You are so right – it does help to write it down – and I am so guilty of multitasking – seems like you get more done, but you actually get way less done!

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