According to the dictionary, self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weakness; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptation to abandon it. The older I get, the more difficult it is to get out of bed in the morning. Some days I’m tempted to just roll over and go back to sleep when my alarm goes off. Although it may seem much less important at 6am, I set my alarm for a reason and in the moment of weakness I tell myself, I have to get up! Whether you call it willpower, resolve, doggedness, persistence, determination or grit, it’s the ability to get things done. Unfortunately, this is a rare trait these days. I often find myself surrounded by people that lack drive and the ability to “make it happen.” They allow distractions to rule their day and find themselves increasingly unproductive. Apparently there has been a 42% increase in ADHD diagnoses over the past 8 years, but I’m not suggesting that medication is the answer. I realize this can be a sensitive subject and there are people out there that need medication, but I think we quickly jump to the ADD or ADHD self-diagnosis as an excuse for being unproductive. Although I’ve never been diagnosed, I’m confident I have an attention deficit disorder, I can’t read for more than 2 minutes without wondering whats for dinner or being distracted by a squirrel. However, I don’t take medication, I use structure and self-talk to overcome my distractions. I use my calendar and reminders to create structure for my week and tell myself what has to be accomplished each day. My calendar is my boss. If my boss doesn’t tell me what to do, I will have an unproductive day/week. Admittedly, I find some tasks overwhelming when I can’t find the time to get it all done at once. In college, I was one of the world’s worst procrastinators, I would stay up all night working on a paper the day before it was due. In recent years, I’ve discovered the best way to “eat the elephant” is one bite at a time. However, I have to use structure to accomplish these daunting tasks. I will typically allocate a few hours a week to work on a major project. I literally schedule the time on my calendar to work on something for a short period of time. For example, last night I was talking to Annabelle and Ellesie (9 and 7) about cleaning their rooms. Honestly, it would probably take an entire day of focused effort to accomplish the task. We all know that asking 9 and 7 year old girls to focus that long isn’t going to work and we will end that day frustrated, depressed and disappointed that the task wasn’t accomplished. Instead, what if we made a much more realistic goal of focusing on a very small section of the room for 10 minutes a day. After a few days, the room would be clean and organized. But it requires the structure of dividing the room up into bite-size chunks and scheduling to work on it 10 minutes per day. Once structure is established, there will still be moments of weakness. It is in these moments where I have to use self-talk. I remind myself how depressing it can feel to get to the end of my day or week and feel like I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. Self-talk is the extra fuel I need to get back on track. These are just suggestions, but the work for me. The choice is yours if you struggle with self-discipline and productivity, take medication or create structure for yourself, I choose the latter.