Self-discipline as the best productivity hack

Everyone knows that productivity leads to abundance, satisfaction, and success. The word “productive” is truly subjective because it is defined by every person’s standards and beliefs. Regardless of the expectations, productivity is similar to excellence. It is not a result but rather a continuous process that is influenced by the person’s mindset and behavior, led by self-discipline.

To become a productive individual, you’ll need to work on your mindset and develop the necessary attitude, knowledge, and skills. One of the most important traits that will lead to an increased productivity (regardless of the circumstances) is self-discipline. Without it, we would be lost in a million distractions, irrelevant choices, and disempowering decisions.

self-discipline productivity

In today’s post, I’m sharing several insightful strategies to improve your productivity through self-discipline. Remember: knowledge without action leads to nothing. Therefore, do your best to implement everything you learn here as soon as possible!

1. Establish clear goals

Before anything else, establishing clear goals and expectations is a must. Your self-discipline can be fully exploited when you know exactly what you’re after. A goal is just like a roadmap – it helps you move forward, giving you the proper directions. When you get stuck, encounter challenges, or face setbacks, you’ll be able to exercise your self-discipline on a specific objective instead of getting distracted.

2. Plan everything to keep it simple & straightforward

After you establish your goals, break them into small pieces and plan the milestones and deadlines. It’s easier to plan your “gameplay” in advance rather than making important decisions without giving them too much thought.

If you develop a system around your goals, exercising your self-discipline will be much easier. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, the system would indicate the following: jog every morning for 30 minutes, drink 2L of water, gym after work, no meat, no sugar, etc. The system can involve habits, rules, and expectations. Once you have everything set, you’ll only need to follow your clues and stay disciplined while you do it.

3. Take things one by one and build momentum

The power of momentum is huge. As the experts from EssayOnTime say, “If you accomplish a small positive result, you’ll get a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that’ll help you perform better on the next task. If the next task is a success, the third task will go even smoother because you’ll be experiencing a “winning streak””. So, combine the momentum with your current self-discipline skills and you’ll prevail in most of the situations.

In addition, being self-disciplined with one simple task rather than a big goal is always easier. Take it step by step, don’t rush your journey, and focus on each milestone!

4. Forget perfectionism

I consider perfectionism to be a huge disease, a productivity killer that’ll bring negative consequences over your life. Get it, once and for all, that there’s no such thing as “perfect”. Perfect is subjective and impossible, as we humans are all imperfect. If you quit wanting to get it “perfectly right”, you’ll be able to make a quicker progress.

Perfectionism is also generating procrastination, self-discipline’s “number 1 enemy.” You can’t exercise your self-discipline if every decent result of yours is treated as a failure. You’ll eventually become overwhelmed and quit.

5. “I should” vs “I must”

Pay attention to your internal dialogue. How do you approach most of the situations…are you saying, “I should do that” or “I must do that”? There’s a huge difference between the two, a difference that’ll decide whether you’ll stick to it or not.

I’d suggest you make a list of all the things that need to be done, mark their priority, and perceive the most important ones as a true “must.”

6. Pain vs pleasure

When it comes to improving your self-discipline and ultimately your productivity, understanding how your mind works is a real benefit. This would require a different conversation of psychological nature, but I’d try to keep it simple.

Everything we do, we do it to either gain pleasure or to avoid pain. For example. We go to work in order to have money, so we can afford to live a pleasurable life. We also do it to avoid the pain of being homeless, of having low social status, or of disappointing the close ones.

It goes the same with absolutely everything. If you know what you’re after, you’ll always be able to pay more attention, dedicate more discipline, and ultimately achieve more results.

7. Quit making excuses

Being responsible for everything that’s going on inside and outside your skin is an essential quality that every productive person must possess. Every time you think up of a reason not to do something, establish whether your justification is a lame excuse or a palpable reason.

If you find that you’re making excuses regularly, you’ll need to simply say “NO” to them. When you find yourself making excuses, think of what Martin Luther King once said – “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

8. Exercise your willpower every day

Willpower is not a born gift but rather a hard skill that can be constantly improved.  Every time you use your willpower to surpass moments of weakness, your self-discipline and willpower (which are truly interconnected) will slowly improve.

Self-discipline and willpower are two skills that are highly similar to endurance and good shape. For example, exercising and training. If you go to the gym for one year every day, you’ll be in perfect shape and you’ll be able to perform great every time. If you stop going, you’ll lose your shape and everything will become harder!

9. Learn to say “NO” to distractions

Many people seem to have forgotten the word “NO”. In fact, most people would rather do something they don’t like in order to please others or make a good impression, sacrificing what is truly important.

For example, if you’re focused on working and one of your best friends calls…will you pick up? The moment you get the call, you have the option to get distracted or to refuse the distraction. If you get a message on social media, will you check it before finishing work?

Every time you realize that you have two options: to keep doing the important or to take a quick break to solve the unimportant, choose the first option without hesitation.

10. Reward yourself, forgive yourself

Rewarding yourself for the small and big wins is a good practice that’ll help you keep moving forward regardless of how difficult, long, or stressful your journey is.

Forgiving yourself for your failures is even important for maintaining a healthy level of self-discipline. If you stumble, quickly assess and acknowledge what went wrong, note it down, and keep moving forward.


If your productivity is the engine that helps you drive forward, your self-discipline skills are the fuel that allows it to run. Without the fuel, you can never reach your destination.

Is it easy? No. Possible? Of course. Start small, build momentum, leverage new strategies, and commit to every decision you make. Quit making excuses, forget about the short-term pleasure, forget perfectionism, and aim to develop productive habits. Reward and forgive yourself for winning and failing, and keep moving forward!

Jacob Dillon is a professional writer and distinctive journalist from Sydney. Being passionate about what he does, Jacob likes to discuss stirring events as well as express his opinion about technological advancements and evolution of society. Find Jacob on Twitter and Facebook.