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Whether you are employed, self-employed or unemployed, you are going to need self-discipline to improve your situation. This is because nobody is going to force you to excel. Rather, external discipline is only going to force you to achieve a bare minimum. If you want to do better than this, you need to develop and practice self-discipline. The key to developing self-discipline is to practice self-discipline; if you practice a little bit, every day, you will eventually internalize the skills you need and self-discipline will become second nature.
Remove distracting influences from your home and your life. The easiest way to encourage a good decision is to remove the temptation in the first place. So, if you are constantly wasting time playing computer games when you should be studying, delete your computer games. This forces self-discipline by making it less of a choice and more of a lifestyle.
Tell yourself what you are doing well. This may be verbally or in the form of an internal monologue, or you could write yourself notes and emails. By encouraging yourself, you are taking others out of the equation and reinforcing the "self" in self-discipline.
Schedule tasks. If you have a big project due in two weeks, don't just write "project due" on your calendar. Rather, break it into parts and schedule each one separately. So, you could write "preliminary research due" in three days, "outline due" in a week, "rough draft" due in 10 days and "final draft" due in two weeks. It is harder to ignore deadlines when they are immediate, so focus on making them as immediate as possible.
Set a routine for each day. If you set a specific time each day to do certain things, such as working on projects, cleaning and going to the gym, then it will be much harder to shirk these tasks. If you do, you will be much more aware of the fact that you did so; the routine will essentially guilt you into self-discipline.
Ensure that you do things that make you happy. These can include hobbies, sports or just relaxing. If self-discipline is making you unhappy, then it is going to be hard to stick to.
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