To Do or Not To Do

Getting a grip on your ever growing to-do list starts with self discipline.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the December 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Today's mobile workplace is both a blessing and a curse for entrepreneurs. The ability to instantly access information from our cell phones and public wireless internet hubs has blurred the line between our personal and professional lives. This freedom of mobility has created a fast-paced world in which our time, priorities and energies are constantly challenged. At times, our to-do items become so numerous that we spend all our time reprioritizing instead of taking action to move forward.

To succeed in this new environment, you have to learn how to set and follow specific rules. Successful entrepreneurs discipline themselves to take action even when they're weighed down by the tasks at hand. With a few guidelines, you can develop the self-discipline necessary to navigate these new boundaries and accomplish your goals with ease.

1. Establish an affirmative mind-set by giving yourself a reason to become more disciplined. Just as everyone has different muscular strength, we all possess different levels of self-discipline. State three positive outcomes associated with becoming more disciplined, and give your subconscious direction by integrating your business goals into your daily routine. Having an overall view of your objectives and progress keeps you motivated to take action even when there are distractions.

2. Engage yourself. If you want to become more disciplined, you need to start by strengthening your willpower. Willpower to act can be the intense, powerful boost you need to accomplish your goals, regardless of your emotional state. Often, it's when you force yourself to engage that you reap the most benefits. Don't feel bad about working when you need to. Overcome any initial latency by following your gut, not your guilt.

3. Start with tasks that produce immediate results. It's often difficult to embark on a large task once you consider the magnitude of the work ahead. Disciplining yourself to take action is like exercising: You have to start where you're comfortable and go from there. Stay motivated and become increasingly productive by accomplishing tasks that immediately benefit your business. Take direct action. The best progress often occurs when you don't feel like working at all.

4. Make sure your boundaries fit the real world. A hockey game played without borders would result in chaos. Define what you need to do on a personal and professional level to make your first task a success, and stick to it. This may mean working when others are playing or retiring early from a family gathering. When boundaries are crossed, detach yourself from any reactive response. Drive hard but remember not to slam into the hockey glass.

It takes determination and perseverance to make self-discipline an integral part of your regular practice. You'll become stronger, and insurmountable tasks will become routine. Take conscious action, and soon you can spend more time tackling bigger challenges and reaping the rewards of greater successes.

Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him at


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