Many people have a proclivity to push off work until the last minute, so much so that the phrase, “I’m a procrastinator” has become akin to a cute, colloquial personality trait. There is no harm in leisure and the opportunity to kick back and read a good book or watch a movie is something I relish. However, I’m at the tail end of finals week and I am counting my lucky stars that I didn’t wait until the last minute to put my nose to the grindstone. There is a general thought that there are two types of people: the lazy and the driven. The idea that these are unchanging traits that are imbued in us from the moment we pop out of the womb is a wild misconception.
It’s normal for people to dread the prospect of work, especially if that work is not something particularly meaningful to us. It gets even worse when Netflix provides an escape from those responsibilities for a short while. The truth, from my experience anyway, is that increasing your self discipline and work ethic isn’t unattainable and a lot of that process comes down to little actions and choices we make everyday. Additionally, you don’t have to cancel your Netflix subscription to become a non-procrastinator. Here are a few tactical shifts that anybody can employ to increase their work ethic: Small Practices Make Big Gains, See The Bigger Picture, and It Isn’t a Punishment.
Small Practices Make Big Gains
It can be easy to fool ourselves into thinking that work ethic means sitting down for six hours and pounding out that book we’ve been meaning to write. That isn’t it and trying to juggernaut your way through work will only drain you and make procrastination more likely in the future. I talk about this in more detail in my previous post ‘I Have To Be Productive… Right?’ In truth, though, work ethic is comprised of two things: self-governance and foresight. Those two foundations can be exercised everyday in little ways that, in the long run, will provide substantial results.
Let’s start with self-governance. When I say self-governance, I mean the ability to make the conscientious choice, going the extra mile, doing something for personal reasons despite the fact that it may not be expedient. We are faced with various choices everyday. Many of them revolve around doing what is mildly inconvenient but positive or what is easy but has a net negative. It is important to recognize these choices and then to choose the positive course of action, despite the fact that it may take a little more effort. When I say ‘a little more effort’ I genuinely mean a little. Finished that cup of coffee? You could set it in the sink or you could go to the minute effort of opening up the dishwasher and putting that mug on the rack. Done reading that book? Set it on the shelf, not the desk or floor. We are faced with these small choices on a daily basis- even from the moment we wake up. Make your bed. In order to develop a strong work ethic, it is essential that we practice the basics of self-governance. They help cultivate a productive mindset. Additionally, it’ll make things easier in the long run. Now you don’t have a pile of dishes to put in the washer. When you head off to sleep for the night, you have a nicely made bed to look forward to.
The second daily aspect involved in increasing work ethic is foresight. Organization is laziness’s worst enemy. Set a ‘to-do’ list up for the day. Organizing what needs to be done grounds what responsibilities were previously nebulous, allowing them to be tracked and attacked. More so, foresight can help us see the gains from accomplishing what needs to be done, which is incredibly motivating. It’s about seeing the bigger picture.
Seeing The Bigger Picture
It’s difficult to assemble a jigsaw puzzle without know what the end product is supposed to look like. Moral of the story, don’t lose the box. Even bigger moral of the story, you have to see where you’re going in order to get there. Without understanding the end goal, or the value that your work has, it’ll be difficult to hunker down and do it.
Having an aim is especially important when the work you have in front of you is ambiguous. Procrastination isn’t too damaging when there are deadlines, as once a deadline rolls around the motivation to complete any given project will spring up like oil from the ground- even if it means pulling an all-nighter. However, when goals live in a limbo, void of any set deadlines, work ethic is all the more important. I study Acting in university right now and post graduation, I’m going to have to actively put myself out there in order to find work. There won’t be any immediate repercussions to not networking or auditioning. The ambiguity and flexible time-frame make it far easier to procrastinate. While there may not be any immediate consequences to putting off an audition and saying, “There will always be another”, there are damaging long term repercussions. Five years may go by with nothing to show for it, my career not having moved an inch. That’s a dangerous place to find yourself in and any self starting venture is steeped in it. That is why seeing the bigger picture, the end goal, is all the more important. Lay out a plan of action. I discuss what a plan of action might look like in one of my previous posts, ‘Finding Energy- Revving Up Your Motivation’. Give it a look for a step my step process on goal setting, I think it’s highly applicable here.
It Isn’t a Punishment
Earlier I mentioned that it is unproductive to imagine good work ethic as a juggernaut induced binge of productivity. Working like that will leave you tired and demoralized. You can’t punish yourself into hard work, it’ll never pan out and it isn’t sustainable.
Instead, it is necessary to understand why you are doing something. See the long term benefits. Then work towards it. Practice self-governance and foresight on a daily basis. If you’ve worked hard, don’t be afraid to reward yourself with a little Netflix or whatever form of relaxation floats your proverbial boat. One of the main blocks to hard work is imagining it as something you HAVE to do as opposed to something you’re freely doing in order to improve your life in the long run.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed the post, I’m no professional with these topics, just a guy with a keyboard speaking from his own experience. Have any thoughts on the topic? Comment them below. If you liked the post please follow the blog or give it a like. If you think someone else would enjoy the post, feel free to share it with them or on social media. Make yourself at home and take a look around.