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Managing Downtime: Discipline is the Focus vs Urgency

Managing Downtime: Discipline is the Focus vs Urgency

The Effects of Poor Time Management Skills

Whether at school or in the workplace, effective time management skills are an important part of achieving success. People who manage their time effectively are more productive, less stressed, more positive and more in control than those who do not. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to identify the effects of poor time management skills whether in yourself or in others.


Poor time management skills inevitably lead to procrastination. Procrastination is putting off important or necessary work until the very last minute. Usually, when work is put off until the last minute, it is not as well done as it would have been if you devoted more time to it. Procrastination usually leads to poor productivity when you do not complete tasks in a satisfactory manner.

Habitual Lateness

Another effect of poor time management skills is habitual lateness. People who do not plan their use of time properly usually have a difficult time being on time to appointments or turning in work at the scheduled due date. This habitual lateness can also negatively affect their productivity and give them a reputation of being less serious or lazy even when that is not the case.


Poor time management also leads to people overextending themselves, which is a problem that occurs when they take on too much work and do not allocate enough time in which to complete it. People who overextend themselves have a difficult time delegating tasks and figuring out what is a good use of their time. Since they are not aware of how much time they need to complete a task, they also tend not to know when they are taking on too much work and setting themselves up for failure or frustration.

8 Powerful Ways To Cultivate Extreme Self-Discipline

Learning to effectively lead yourself and others all comes down to discipline. Happiness, success, and fulfillment stem from focus and self-control. It may be hard to believe when you’re facing an all-you-can-eat buffet, the prospect of making a quick buck, or the lazy lure of sleeping in versus getting on the Peloton, but studies show that people with self-discipline are happier. Why? Because with discipline and self-control we actually accomplish more of the goals we truly care about. Self-discipline is the bridge between goals defined and goals accomplished.

Chapter Eight of my new book - Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way To An Extraordinary Life - is titled ‘Win More Through Discipline And Accountability.’ People with a higher degree of self-control spend less time debating whether to indulge in behaviors and activities that don’t align with their values or goals. They are more decisive. They don’t let impulses or feelings dictate their choices. They are the architects of their own beliefs and the actions they take to achieve a desired outcome. As a result, they aren’t as easily distracted by temptation and tend to feel more satisfied with their lives.

“You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ MARCUS AURELIUS

There are specific strategies you can execute to learn self-discipline and gain the willpower to live a happier, more fulfilling life. If you are looking to take control of your habits and choices, here are the eight most powerful things you can do to master self-discipline—which is imperative for life beyond your comfort zone—and maybe even redefining “extraordinary.”

6 Ways To Develop The Self-Discipline Necessary To Reach Your Goals

You hear people say things like, “I don’t have the willpower to do that,” as they watch their friend order the salad instead of the fried chicken. It’s as if they believe that some people were simply born with divine willpower while others were overlooked as self-discipline superpowers were being handed out. The truth is, self-discipline is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic .

It's clear that many people don't know how to increase their self-discipline, however. In the 2011 Stress in America Survey, 27% of respondents said the lack of willpower was the biggest barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes. Many of the respondents agreed that they could likely increase their willpower, but the vast majority felt like the key to improved willpower was having more time to themselves. What many of the respondents may not have recognized is that increased leisure time doesn’t automatically equate to increased self-discipline.

Instead, the only way to improve your self-discipline is through intentional and dedicated practice. As with all types of self-improvement, change is difficult and it takes time. Here are six strategies to increase your self-discipline:


1. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses – Whether cookies are the downfall to your diet, or you can’t resist checking your social media accounts every two minutes, acknowledge your pitfalls. Too often people either try to pretend their weaknesses don’t exist or they try to minimize the negative impact their bad habits have on their lives. For example, many smokers think, “I could quit if I wanted to,” because they don’t want to admit they’re hooked.

2. Establish a Clear Plan – No one wakes up one day suddenly blessed with self-discipline. Instead, you need a strategy. Whether you want to increase good habits – like exercising more often, or you want to eliminate bad habits – like watching too much TV, you’ll need to develop a plan to outline the action steps that will help you reach your goals.

3. Remove the Temptations When Necessary – Although we’d all like to believe we have enough willpower to resist even the most alluring enticement, it only takes one moment of weakness to convince ourselves to cave to temptation. Making it difficult to access those temptations can be pivotal to increasing self-discipline. If your weakness is Facebook, turn off the internet while you’re working. If you can’t resist overspending when you go to the mall, leave the credit card at home and only take a small amount of cash.

4. Practice Tolerating Emotional Discomfort – It’s normal to want to avoid pain and discomfort, but trying to eliminate all discomfort will only reinforce to yourself that you can't handle distress. We can usually stand a lot more discomfort than we think we can. (See my previous article Think You Can't Stand To Do Something? Prove Yourself Wrong). Practice allowing yourself to experience uncomfortable emotions like boredom, frustration, sadness, or loneliness and increase your tolerance to the negative emotions that you may experience as you increase your self-discipline.

5. Visualize the Long-Term Rewards – You’ll be less likely to cave to temptation when you focus on the long-term gain. Giving in to today’s temptations may make you feel happy now, but long-term happiness and contentment requires you to forgo immediate gratification. Visualize yourself meeting your goals and reaping the rewards that you’ll gain by practicing self-discipline on a daily basis.

6. Recover From Mistakes Effectively – Self-discipline comes easier on some days than others. If you’re feeling stressed about an upcoming presentation, you may convince yourself to skip your workout. Or if you’re ecstatic about your most recent business deal, you may let your good habits slide for a bit. Making mistakes is part of the process to becoming better. The way you recover from those mistakes is what’s most important. The key is to acknowledge your mistakes and move on from them with even more resolve to do better next time.

It’s not surprising that those who lack self-discipline are somewhat envious of those who seem to be able to exert impressive self-control. After all, self-discipline is the key to reaching your goals and creating a better life.  The good news is we all have the ability to be self-disciplined - we just have to practice.

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