One Weird Trick for Maximizing Self Discipline

Koichi, author of the marvellous online Japanese Textbook TextFugu, makes a great point about the distinction between self-discipline and routine:

Let’s think of the amount of self-discipline you have as “SD points.” Let’s also assume everyone has approximately 100 SD points. If you use all your SD points in a day, then you have no more self-discipline.

Each morning, we wake up with 100 fresh points – that there is no carry-over from the previous day does, I guess, fit most people’s experience – and need to decide wisely on what to spend those points, or else we’ll end up slumped on the sofa watching Simpsons re-runs. But the finite-ness is not the point here, and neither is the distribution. Emphasis mine:

[…] the difference between productivity heroes and everyone else isn’t that they have more SD points. It’s that they don’t use the SD points they have when they’re doing a lot of things that normally use those SD points up. How do they do that? They make things into rituals and traditions. […] Rituals and traditions don’t take up SD points.

Koichi is so spot on here, it hurts. If there is 1 Weird Trick1 for getting more productive, this may well be it.

  1. see this Slate article ↩︎