“Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” – Kop Kopmeyer. We’ve put together a list of self-discipline hacks that all entrepreneurs should try!
Possessing a high degree of self-discipline is a quality that separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest. It’s an exercise in consistency, and something a true, self-respecting entrepreneur puts into practice every day to ensure they get their work done.
As an entrepreneur, you’re not subject to the 9 to 5 routine like the rest of the population. This means you need the self-discipline to pick yourself up and take control of your time (and life). If the prospect of sleeping-in is better than getting out of bed to phone that new client then these self-disciple hacks are for you.
The good news: self-discipline can be learnt. Like any habit, it takes consistency to rewire your brain for the better. More good news: studies show that the more self-disciplined you are, the happier you’ll be in both the short and long term. Anyway, let’s get started.
Remove all social media and gaming apps from your phone
Instagram, snapchat, facebook, to name a few. Uninstalling facebook messenger was the biggest time saver for me, having spent nearly an hour a day replying to messages, playing 8-ball pool, and sending stickers to group chats. Instagram is also a big waste of time unless you’re using it to promote your brand or for business related reasons.
Another advantage of removing these unproductive and sometimes exhausting apps, is that it forced me to stay in touch with my closest friends via picking up a phone.
Let’s be honest, for most of us, our phones are within an arm’s reach 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If we can dismiss the distractions that this mini computer in our pockets bring, then we’re buying a lot of time.
The most successful entrepreneurs know that we’re habitual creatures, and as a result are a product of our daily habits. Checking Instagram every half an hour is not a habit a true entrepreneur will entertain; this leads nicely into the next tip.
Leave your phone in another room before you sleep
Probably the easiest self-discipline hack to implement.
This is what the standard young persons routine looks like:
- 7.30: alarm goes off
- 7.30 – 7.42: scrolled through Instagram
- 7.42 – 7.46: scrolled through Facebook
- 7.46 – 7.59: reply to group chat messages
- 8.00: Get out of bed.
Not only is this terrible for your eyes, but you’ve just wasted 30 minutes of your day (and arguably the most cognitively productive hours). You’d be better off sleeping for an extra half hour.
Buy a cheap alarm clock and leave it on the other side of the room from your bed. Not only is this going to save time in the morning, but before you go to bed you’ll stop spending 45 minutes watching fortnite videos (I’m talking from personal experience here).
In the first few days of trying this, you may struggle with getting to sleep as your brain is used to looking at a screen before it shuts down for the day. To combat this, spend 30 minutes reading a book before bed instead. Not only will you gain from the multiple benefits of sleep, but it’ll also help put you to sleep (you’ll likely wake up the next morning with the book covering your eyes).
It took myself around 2 weeks to properly implement it and I will never go back.
Don’t snooze your alarm
This article should probably be called “sleeping hacks”, but I absolutely think this needs to be mentioned: stop snoozing your alarm!
When your 7am alarm goes off on a Monday morning, all you want to do is turn over, snooze the alarm for 10 minutes, and put your head back on the pillow to get an extra 7 minutes of sleep. The problem is, by hitting the snooze button, you’re messing with your body’s natural waking mechanism designed to provide energy for the day.
“When you let yourself fall back asleep, you’re tricking your body into thinking it’s going back into sleep mode,” explains Adam Tishman, sleep expert and co-founder of Helix. “When your alarm goes off again, your body and brain are confused, resulting in that foggy feeling called sleep inertia. Sleep inertia can stay with you throughout the day, making you actually feel more tired throughout the day.”
Adopt a proper sleeping routine and wake up at the same time every morning
Not a hack, but we all know that sleep deprivation affects your mood, so it’s no surprise that a lack of sleep also affects your ability to have self-discipline.
A group of psychologists at Clemson University conducted a study that found those who had erratic sleeping patterns were more susceptible to impulsive decisions and distractions. This is because sleep deprivation causes a reduction in glucose product, a vital part of your body’s willpower function. In short, an erratic sleeping pattern causes you to have less energy, which in turn leads to a lower levels of self-discipline.
Furthermore, a proper sleeping routine promotes optimal circadian rhythm. This will ensure that cortisol and adrenaline hormones are released at the perfect time; about an hour before you need to wake up. They will prepare your body for the day ahead and you’ll be as energetic as possible when the alarm rings. After 2 to 3 weeks of doing this, you’ll start to wake up naturally at that time without needing an alarm (provided you don’t sleep less than 6 hours!).
“And sleep inertia probably isn’t even the only source of your exhaustion—hitting snooze can also significantly impact the rapid eye movement part of the sleep cycle, the time during which our bodies are most inactive and our brains are most active. (REM sleep is when we dream).”
Stop waiting for the “right time”
Being self-disciplined means getting things done, even when you don’t feel like it. Improving self-discipline means you’re going against the grain or normality and you’ll find all sorts of excuses not to finish something.
Stop waiting for the right time to do things and get them done when you need to! The more you fight the urge to procrastinate, the stronger your will power becomes and thus the self-discipline habits come to life.
The bestselling book “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg delves into the technicalities of habit building and explains that these repeated behaviors are traced to the basal ganglia, an area of the brain found deep within the cerebral hemispheres that regulates emotions and memories. On the contrary, decisions are made in the prefrontal cortex. Once a behaviour becomes a habit, we stop using our decision making skills, and instead function to some extent on auto-pilot via the basal ganglia.
This tells us that in order to break free of bad habits, we must make active decisions as individuals. At the start, your brain will resist these changes.
To conclude: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Acknowledge that it will take a while for your new regime to feel right or good or natural. These self-discipline hacks are the starting blocks to a more productive life. Keep chugging along!
If you’d like to test your self-discipline this weekend, give our recent article on starting a drop shipping business in a single day a read. This took a lot of self-discipline to complete, but the results were worth it.