Discipline as a differentiator
We live in a world full of distractions. Especially with phones and social media it has become harder to “pay attention” to any useful/impactful things such as accomplishing goals (the things you promised yourself to do just a few days/weeks ago - that morning workout, everyday reading time…). When it comes to phone distractions, Cal Newport says it best (video), something on the lines of … ‘we are carrying slot machines in our pockets… if we think we can beat all the PhDs working in social media companies to design apps to make addicts out of us, we are fooling ourselves’. Cal Newport is the author of Deep Work, a book that I strongly recommend. If you want to stand out in this world of distractions, you can do that by being disciplined.
Discipline is the last and the most important step of achieving any goal. You can set an aspirational goal, you can even have a plan on how to achieve it but if you lack discipline to stick to the plan, what use is that plan and what is the point of setting a goal? For example, if you want to save 3.5 Lakhs by the end of this year and your plan is to set aside INR 30,000 every month. Great, you got a goal and you got a plan. Now, if you don’t set aside that money every month, instead buy a phone or something else that you had not budgeted for earlier, you are not going to reach your goal. It takes discipline to not be distracted from your plan. Similarly, if your plan is to meditate everyday morning and the first thing you do when you
get out of wake up is to open social media app and spend 30-45 mins scrolling, you just missed your meditation time. Don’t you just feel miserable when that happens.
Discipline not only helps you achieve your goals but personally, I believe discipline is very helpful for mental health also. This is an added benefit of discipline. Having a plan and being disciplined about it, takes the load off of the brain. Because I plan my day and block my calendar at the start of the week, I don’t have to constantly think about what I have to do next, after finishing every task. My plan dictates what I do next. It is important to know that brain, like us, does not like to do the hard work, it always tries to take the easy way out, that is why we need to control it and train it. Discipline is defined as ‘to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way’. So, when we give that time to think about what we should do next, it wanders off and we pick up the slot machine (phones) or some other distractions. So, having a plan and sticking to it is actually great for our mental health. Always important to know that not everything is in our control - there could be a sudden medical emergency or a fire at work and we might have to let go of the plan for a short while, it is OK.
So, how do we bring discipline to our lives. There is a super easy way to do it and the good news is we’ve all done it in our childhood - a time table. You remember that?!
Write down all the important things that you want to do everyday. Mine looks something like this (just an example).
Read Bible and pray
Get 5yo ready for school
Drop her in school
Pick her up from school
Spend time with family
Put 5yo to bed
Write and read
Find a time for it in your calendar for all those things. Believe me, there is time for everything important.
Read Bible and pray - 5:35 - 5:55
Workout - 6 - 6:40
Get 5yo ready for school - 7 - 8
Drop her - 8 - 8:30
Office - 9 - 3:15
Pick her up - 3:15 - 4:30
some more work - 5 - 6
Spend time with family - 6 - 8
Put 5yo to bed - 8:15
Write and read - 8:30 - 9:30
Sleep - 9:45
There will be times when there are more than one thing you have to do, such as cooking a meal and getting your child ready for school. Delegate the less important one.
Jumble these up based on your preference and constraints. There is no rule that workout has to be done at 6 am. If you want to do some distraction free work at 6 am then workout at 11 am. If your shift is 12 - 9p, then spend time with family in the mornings. All of us have constraints (we might not see others’ struggles), we just have to navigate through those.
I understand everyone has different challenges, I would love to hear about your challenges with creating a time table and conflicting priorities. Please post those in the comments section below.
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