How to Practise Self-Discipline in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 February 2021 | Published 26 August 2020

Updated 11 February 2021

Published 26 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-discipline helps professionals establish beneficial habits that contribute to successful careers. Regardless of your job or industry, you need self-discipline to complete your daily tasks efficiently. By taking the time to learn about self-discipline and how to implement it into your work life, you can improve yourself on a personal and professional level. In this article, we define self-discipline, discuss how to develop it, review why it's important and list some tips to help you improve self-discipline in your life.

What is self-discipline?

Self-discipline is a behaviour that allows you to learn your strengths and overcome challenges. Self-discipline gives you the ability to focus intently on a task or goal with the purpose of achieving a certain result. Self-discipline is a trait that produces sustainable success over time. Self-disciplined individuals commonly rely on a group of other traits, such as ambition, motivation, drive and responsibility.

Why is self-discipline important?

Self-discipline is important because it gives you the opportunity to excel in your professional life. It helps you establish a set work routine and holds you accountable for your goals by pushing you to pursue advanced job opportunities.

Benefits of practising self-discipline include:

  • Boosts your chances of advancing in your career: Strong self-discipline allows you to visualise your goals and develop plans to accomplish them. Your supervisor may notice these habits and your impressive work performance, which can lead them to promote you or assign you more important projects.

  • Lowers your anxiety and stress levels: Self-discipline helps you stay on track with both your personal and workplace goals. This keeps you from falling behind or submitting anything past the deadline. You'll find yourself no longer worrying about rushing to finish tasks on time. This can lower your anxiety and stress levels, making you feel more relaxed and at ease.

  • Increases your self-esteem and confidence: When your productivity is boosted, so is your self-esteem, happiness and confidence. Regularly accomplishing your goals creates a sense of pride and makes you believe in yourself, which builds your confidence.

  • Enhances personal and workplace relationships: Staying on top of tasks and goals makes you feel more positive and motivated, which can spread to others. Your happiness and confidence can transfer over to your friends and colleagues, making them feel better about themselves as well.

How to develop self-discipline

Because self-discipline is a learned behaviour, you should make the choice to develop it. It's important to set clear goals and have a solid plan for how you'll achieve them. Knowing where you're headed makes it easier to stay focused and avoid getting distracted. Here are a few steps you can follow to become self-disciplined:

  1. Identify your areas of improvement

  2. Define your expectations and set goals for yourself

  3. Push yourself to meet your goals

  4. Measure your progress

  5. Reward yourself when you accomplish goals

  6. Learn from the situation

1. Identify your areas of improvement

Think about the qualities and habits you'd like to improve, like reducing workplace procrastination, creating a better task-management system or organising your assignments more effectively. Knowing what you need to improve on allows you to develop and implement an effective plan to better yourself. If you're having trouble identifying what qualities to improve, ask close coworkers or supervisors to provide constructive feedback based on what they've noticed after regularly working with you.

2. Define your expectations and set goals for yourself

Set your goals and expectations based on the areas of improvement you previously identified. Develop a plan to enhance your work performance and improve these qualities. Being aware of what you need to improve and setting realistic goals can help strengthen your self-discipline over time. For example:

"I've realised I prioritise the wrong tasks each day and have missed some important deadlines. Starting tomorrow, I will make a list of tasks and their upcoming deadlines. I'll estimate how long each will take and will build a schedule for each day."

3. Push yourself to meet your goals

There may be days when you lack the motivation to complete certain tasks or commit to the goals you set for yourself. It's important to continuously push yourself to achieve these goals. It helps to visualise the possible outcome after accomplishing each goal. This could be a raise, a promotion or praise from your supervisor. Visualising the outcome helps increase your motivation and gives you a reason to keep yourself on task.

Another way to help push yourself is to evaluate when you're the most productive during the day and plan to complete most of your goals and important tasks then. For example, if you're most productive from 8 a.m. to noon, schedule your complex tasks during that time and plan to complete easier job duties in the afternoon.

4. Measure your progress

Tracking your progress helps remind you that you're staying on track to meeting your goals. It helps to set a measurable goal for yourself and track how well you're meeting it each week. For example, if you're a copywriter and your goal is to submit more articles overall, you can set a specific goal to complete 10 articles per week. This helps you better understand how well you're improving.

5. Reward yourself when you accomplish goals

A great way to motivate yourself to stay productive and meet goals is to give yourself a reward once you successfully accomplish them. For example, when you meet your weekly goals, reward yourself on Friday evenings by getting ice cream or seeing a movie. A reward gives you something to work toward and makes you feel like you've earned it after all the hard work you completed.

6. Learn from the situation

There may be days where you're unable to reach certain goals. It's important to accept and learn from your setbacks. Remind yourself that setbacks are natural and everyone experiences them. Try to identify your mistakes and what you can do to prevent them from happening again. Learning from past challenges helps you move forward and continue working to achieve your goals.

Tips to help you practise self-discipline

Practising self-discipline is easier to accomplish when you set clear goals and continue pushing yourself to achieve them. Follow these tips to help you stay self-disciplined:

  • Start your day by accomplishing small tasks

  • Keep yourself from distractions

  • Practise self-care

  • Take plenty of breaks

  • Reduce stress through meditation

Start your day by accomplishing small tasks

Accomplishing smaller tasks before handling larger ones gives you a satisfying feeling, which may make you want to complete larger items. For example, if you make your bed or complete a workout in the morning, you'll want to continue feeling accomplished and proud. This motivation leads you to finish more complex work-related tasks later on.

Keep yourself from distractions

Sometimes it's easier to keep yourself from distractions if you avoid the temptation. You can do this by blocking social media sites or putting your phone away until you've completed all your tasks. It also helps to block out time in your schedule dedicated to focusing only on your assignments.

If you have coworkers who regularly visit your desk to mingle, notify them of your schedule so they can avoid distracting you at certain times of the day. Organise your desk and clear any clutter so you're not distracted by any items sitting on your desk.

Practise self-care

Taking care of your mental and physical health allows you to more easily focus and commit to tasks. You can do this by getting at least six to eight hours of sleep each night, eating nutritional meals, exercising and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Take plenty of breaks

Giving yourself a break from complex tasks allows your brain a few moments to rest and focus on other activities. Take a walk for a few minutes or browse the internet on your phone. Make sure to monitor how long your breaks are. Try setting a timer on your phone for five to 10 minutes while you take your break. When the timer goes off, finish your activity and return to your work.

Reduce stress through meditation

Before or after work, take the time to let your brain and body rest by meditating. This is a great way to reduce any stress or anxieties you may face throughout the workday. It also helps you self-reflect on your goals and accomplishments. Try to fit meditation into your daily routine to help your brain better focus and remain disciplined.

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