How to Discipline Yourself to Do Things

seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

Discipline is one of those traits that is easy to imagine having, but often hard to invoke. It means dragging yourself away from activities that may be pleasurable -- like watching TV or playing video games -- but that in the end waste time you might have spent on things you should be doing. Learning how to discipline yourself to do things often involves bribery -- of yourself. Until you get into the habit of disciplining yourself to do things you must, try some simple self-motivation tricks.

Focus on the desired outcome to settle down to tasks that need doing. Tape a reminder or image of your task, goal or dream somewhere in your house where you'll see it a number of times each day. Every time you pass by this reminder, take a moment and envision yourself being, doing or having the object of your desire; doing this often provides incentive to take steps that manifest your goals.

Take control of your urge to ignore the things you need to do by making a list in a notebook that you keep in sight. The act of writing down what you need to do brings a feeling of accomplishment and adds a level of excitement to your planning. Flesh out the list with details regarding every facet of your enterprise; one way to talk yourself out of doing things is being surprised by an unexpected detail.

Set deadline dates. Depending on the complexity, allow a number of hours, days, weeks, months or years to complete your task. Break down the timeline into smaller increments by noting the number of steps needed to achieve your goal and allocating a certain amount of time for each.

Start working on the first task immediately once your list and timeline are complete. This builds confidence in your ability to discipline yourself.

Give yourself a reward when tasks on your list are accomplished; take yourself out for a meal, or buy an item associated with your goal. This reward system of self-bribery helps you associate hard work with pleasure.


  • Don't give up if your efforts lapse. Remember this important point: you do have discipline -- you get up every day, feed yourself and go to work, where you give value to your employer. Translate those efforts into tasks that you don't have to do, but want to do.