As you put it, self-discipline isn't so much a matter of "mind tricks”. Tricking oneself into doing something might be a quick fix, a diversion, or an easy way out of doing something else. Instead, I consider self-discipline to be a long-term endeavor.
What are some successful methods for developing self-control?
1. Improve your ability to concentrate
Leading a self-disciplined life, like any other form of lifestyle, begins when you wake up in the morning. That's when you decide how you'll spend the next 12–16 hours of your life. You can choose to react, which means getting out of bed, getting your phone, and checking your emails, Twitter, or Instagram. You can be watching the news and become engrossed in foreign events over which you have little control. Alternatively, you may take calls or respond to text messages that your friends begin sending you while you're eating breakfast. Get proactive by teaching your brain to be focused as soon as you wake up if you want to create a different start to your day.
Begin each day by asking yourself, "What is the one thing I am committed to accomplishing today?". Make a note of it.
It should be written in large characters on a sheet of paper and hung on the wall of your bedroom or bathroom. Read it aloud when you begin your day, such as when brushing your teeth. Come up with a quick response and say it out loud. Then, as a follow-up, take action and direct your attention toward it.
2. Optimize your mornings for important work
A self-disciplined life can be described in a variety of ways, but one of them isn't being spontaneous in how you go about your day. There's time for whimsy, and then there's time to get things done. To put it another way, it's all about timing.
Being self-disciplined entails prioritizing your hard work over your leisure activities. It implies that you are aware of when you should devote your time to hard work and when you should devote your time to pleasure and socializing.
Make the most of your mornings by making it a habit to get your work done first thing in the morning. This entails utilizing your circadian rhythm to the fullest extent possible.
Most people find that conducting deep work that demands a lot of focus is best done in the early morning hours. Moreover, the brain's peak performance occurs between 2-4 hours after we get up. If you get up at 6 am, your peak hours will be between 8 and 10 am.
Working early permits your brain to fully concentrate on the task at hand.
3. Delay what feels good
If doing hard work early helps you focus better, the natural side effect of self-discipline is that you start postponing things that are more pleasurable. What’s the point of doing something difficult first in order to reward yourself later?
You’d be surprised how far-reaching this practice can be. In a study performed by Stanford University scientists, results showed that delayed gratification can increase your chance of succeeding in many areas of your life, your education, career, short and long-term goals, even your personal life choices. This study is now famous and is called the Marshmallow experiment.
Start by observing the things you’d like to indulge in whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Then, resist the temptation to immediately choose to treat yourself by thinking of one reason why not to indulge: maybe you’re starting off the new year with new fitness goals or better eating habits.
And follow up, take your attention away from the distractions and focus on your priorities for the day: completing your homework, going out for a run, listening to a podcast, or preparing dinner.
4. Eliminate what distracts you
Leading a self-disciplined life means saying no to different things: not indulging in pleasant activities, curbing your desire to procrastinate, and not letting distractions take over your day. They may seem harmless to begin with, but distractions can easily make you slip from your work. One minute you’re just catching up with an old friend on WhatsApp, and the next thing you know it’s two hours later and you haven’t picked up your notes to start prepping for your exam. When you turn off what distracts you, you have a better chance to actually get stuff done.
Set your phone to Airplane mode when you need to focus on your work.
Try it for a 2-hour period to begin. Let people around you (family members, friends, or roommates) know you won’t be available in the next few hours. Check your email and social media apps at certain intervals only 2–3 times a day.
Avoid browsing the Internet or reading news throughout the day, and close all tabs in your browser so you’re not tempted to Google something every few minutes.
5. Find three things to be grateful for
There’s a lot of negativity people bring into their daily lives when they compare themselves constantly with other people. Why can’t I do what he did? How am I not that successful? This way of thinking is disempowering and limiting. Practicing gratitude can rewire our brain to think about positive things instead of obsessing about everything we don’t have which only leaves us feeling frustrated and unhappy.
Do it early so you can feel the effects throughout the day. Take a few minutes when you wake up and before you start getting ready for school.
Focus only on three things you are grateful for today; having a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, a friend who you trust, or a dog or cat that you have as your pet.
Be specific. If it’s one person you’re grateful for having in your life, emphasize which of their qualities you are grateful for: they’re warm, smart, funny, honest, and so on.
Finally, I can say that self-discipline is a lifestyle practice, an attitude you have towards your skills, a mindset you cultivate about things you can control in order to use your brain to observe, think, learn, and make better life decisions.