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How do I establish self-discipline?

I tend to procrastinate a lot and be very lazy. I want to peruse medical school but have currently hit a wall. What do I do?

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David’s Answer

Most people can't admit the are lazy or procrastinators. Certainly the first step is to see that.
Identifying your issues, and triggers, are key. When you see it happing, recognize it, and make a choice.
I call it seeing the thing before the thing. Like, playing a game on my phone when I should be getting my work done. So, I ask, what happened before I started playing the game? Was the work I was doing something I wanted to avoid? Was it hard? Was I dreading it?
Seeing why can help understand your motivation and that will help you to make a better choice.

A friend gave me a saying to put on my wall "Whatever you don't change, you choose"
Thank you comment icon This is great, thank you! Anita
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meredith’s Answer

Create a routine for yourself and stick with it, also a daily planner really helps as well!
Thank you comment icon Sounds good, thanks! Anita
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M’s Answer

Hi Anita! This is a great question! This is definitely something I have also struggled with throughout the years. It truly comes down to self-discipline. Personally, I would recommend staying organized and incorporating an agenda or planner into your daily life. By implementing a check list of tasks you have to complete in a day it allows you to visualize what needs to be done and how based on the rest of your week/month that you cannot procrastinate given you have other items to complete. Try to incorporate this into your routine, and truly hope this helps you out. Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Ahh I see, thank you! Anita
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Madi’s Answer

Hi Anita,

Many people procrastinate. Sometimes a task can take us 10 minutes but we still procrastinate for hours because we lack the motivation to start. It's natural and you're definitely on the right track to combating this problem. You can sharpen your self-discipline by practicing! There are many articles online that help with ways to practice self-discipline. My favorite one that I've learned is the one where you reward yourself for doing tasks. So for example, if you read three chapters of your assigned reading before the due date then you can reward yourself with ice cream as a treat. As I said, there are many other ways so figure out which way works best for you.
Thank you comment icon I see, thank you! Anita
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Priya’s Answer

Hi Anita,
I think a great way to help yourself could be to visit a mental health counselor/therapist! There could be many reasons for your procrastination, and maybe a good counselor/therapist, or a career counselor as well, could be of help =). I know, for myself, I may procrastinate when I am feeling a lot of pressure. Do not be too hard on yourself, and I hope you get the support you need to help you move forward =)!
Thank you comment icon I'll take this into account, thank you so much! Anita
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Raghavan’s Answer

Recognizing a problem is the first step to fixing it. It's wonderful to see that you have identified an area that you can be better at. That's a great start.
To facilitate self-improvement, I'd suggest that you write down your goals on a chart and stick it on a wall in the place where you spend most of your time. The goal can also include getting things done on time, among other broad goals.
Before you go to sleep,
- Make a checklist of things-to-do the following day.
- Check if you finished things you wanted to do today.
- If you didn't finish everything, don't worry about it. This can happen due to underestimation of effort (or) due to procrastination. Recognize the root-cause.
- Learn to make better estimates and recognize when you get things done and ticked off :).
- Getting good at it takes time. So, don't give up if you are unable to complete everything you had planned. After all, failures are stepping stones to success. When you miss a target, learn from it and keep going. You never really lose anything until you decide to stop trying!

Thank you comment icon I see, thank you! Anita
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Jermaine’s Answer

Hi Anita,
I'm aligned with Mary in that first have identified the challenge that you are having and also in goal setting. Assuming that you have set the goal and identified the challenge, the next step is to work to address them. As far as you hitting a wall, I would say that you have to try and balance your schedule as best you can and take your breaks. The breaks are what help you recharge and get ready for the next set of challenges. Also to help with procrastination I have a couple of tips. If there are things that you can get done immediately, go ahead and get them done so that they are off your plate. If there are bigger projects and activities, try to break them down into smaller tasks and again take your breaks. I think sometimes we procrastinate because the tasks can be very large and we feel overwhelmed. By breaking them down into smaller tasks it helps and then taking your breaks helps you recharge. I hope these small tips will help you with procrastination and hitting a wall.
Thank you comment icon Sounds good, thank you! Anita
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Mary’s Answer

I think you’ve taken the first step in acknowledging that you procrastinate.
self-awareness is key.
I believe in writing down goals and to do lists because you can see the actions needed, apply time management and the review the results.
I also think it’s important to write down why you didn’t complete something, there are legitimate reasons such as family emergencies etc. etc. but if it’s just pure laziness, you need to dig deeper into why you’re lazy, is it motivation, is it physical, mental challenges.
Try soul-searching to help you find your answer.
Thank you comment icon This is great, thank you! Anita
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Atul’s Answer

Follow 2 principles:
1) Plan your work, work your plan.
2) Time wasted is gone forever.

No one going to give you a magic answer to addressing your procrastination. You have to decide for yourself and only you have to determine to create discipline.
Remember - it takes 21 days to make habit.
Try small steps - wake up and go to sleep at a fix time. If you have a good night sleep you will be fresh to think right.
Have a good eating habits and do exercise /yoga/meditation.
This will help you and the positive energy will make you do the right things (prevent laziness/procrastination).
Always remember it is all in our head and doing above will give you fresh perspective to do what you want to accomplish.
These small steps will help you.
Try just for 21 days…

Thank you comment icon I'll definitely put this into consideration, thank you! Anita
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Emily’s Answer

Set a routine and physically write down a task list of what to do every day
Thank you comment icon sounds good, thanks! Anita
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Cody’s Answer

Hi Anita,

You've posed a truly great question! Fortunately, you've received exceptional advice that I wholeheartedly echo. I want to reinforce the power of self-awareness in cultivating growth. Furthermore, maintaining the ability to reach out for help and pursue advice from various resources is particularly important in implementing positive changes in your life. Many people struggle with identifying areas that need improvement and/or experience difficulty initiating how they can take the steps to realize improvement. With that said, acknowledge and continue to utilize your self-awareness and initiative. Your motivation to establish self-discipline early in your journey to medical school and educational career will benefit you greatly!

As a current medical student, self-discipline and time management are definitely essential, and a continued work in progress! My classmates and I all work diligently to prevent and/or overcome the tendency to procrastinate – so you are certainly not alone! This can be very challenging at times during a demanding and fast-paced curriculum that can naturally take a toll on your motivation. Understanding that self-discipline in your studying and productivity is a learned skill gained through continued practice, development, and resilience in the face of obstacles has been critical for me personally. As you progress into college and medical school, you will discover how you learn best and what approaches, methods, resources, schedules, etc work best for you. I encourage you to embrace that process and recognize that you may find different or even initially uncomfortable approaches to learning and studying that may actually work best for you. This is a very common and emphasized part of being a student in higher education.

Personally, I have found self-discipline through remaining organized in my daily and weekly schedule. I start by writing down my goals for each week and trying to identify potential challenges to my productivity. This allows me to be proactive and prevent distractions, procrastination, and prepare myself for upcoming challenges to my plan. Taking the time to reflect and adjust my schedule as needed is also very important, especially for scheduling breaks from studying. If I find myself starting to lose motivation or procrastinate, I'll reflect to see if I need a break or rather would be better served to take on a task or study item that is less overwhelming and less time-consuming to accomplish. Incorporating the time to exercise, walk outside with my dog, be mindful of how I'm feeling, and manage the overwhelming or draining parts of school have all helped me immensely. I also agree with visually tracking the tasks you have completed and setting up a reward for yourself afterward, whether that be smaller like having a treat or watching your favorite Netflix show, or motivating yourself to be productive leading up to a planned event weeks out, like a concert.

Ultimately, I feel like the process of getting organized, keeping track of your goals, visually checking off the tasks you have completed, being proactive, and taking regular breaks, will all help you manage the times when things are stressful, overwhelming, or tempting to put off. Best of luck in your journey!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, I will consider this :) Anita
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Joanna’s Answer

It's definitely hard to be motivated sometimes, but you just have to remember why you're grinding or why you need to grind! Developing good studying habits now will help you significantly in medical school. I recommend creating daily goals and maybe journaling every day about why you want to achieve this certain goal.
Thank you comment icon I see, thank you! Anita
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