Photo Credit: Rifka Schonfeld

Do you wake up every morning and do everything you planned to do that day?

Do you always finish the tasks that you started?


Do you wish you had more sitzfleisch?

Most people probably wish they had the ability to accomplish all of their plans, finish what they start, and sit for long periods of time. While some people call it sitzfleisch, others call it self-discipline. And, according to many, self-discipline is the single most important factor in determining a person’s overall success. In his book, The Seven Laws of Self Discipline, Brian Cagneey writes, “When it comes to achieving the goals and happiness that you want out of life, there is one simple thing you can do that will increase your chances of success 10 fold: improve your self-discipline.”

Cagneey later explains, “While those who lack self-discipline likely think that it is an innate behavior, in all actuality it is a skill, which means that like any skill it can be improved with practice over time.” If you can improve your self-discipline through proactive steps, then it can make most many things in life significantly easier – mostly because you won’t be spending all of that time motivating yourself to do those things that you aren’t looking forward to doing.

Recently, I read an article by Rick Riddle, an author who writes about maximizing personal effectiveness on ways to improve your self-discipline and resolve. But, first you must want to make better choices in the future. As Cagneey cautions, “Your future self is directly influenced by what you choose to do in the present, so do yourself a favor and choose wisely!”


Ways To Improve Your Self-Discipline

Stick with a daily routine. That routine should likely include a to-do list. That to-do list should be the order in which things should get done (based on importance and deadlines). Then, go through it, in order, each day. Just the sheer act of writing up the to-do list the night before and crossing items off the following day will create a sense of routine and accomplishment that will encourage replication.

Switch between things you like and don’t like. When you put together your to-do list, alternate between things that you find pleasant and those you don’t. This way, you will rush to get through the unpleasant. Once you turn this into a habit, you can feel the “reward” of getting through unpleasant tasks by getting to a pleasant one.

Remind yourself of consequences. There are obviously rewards to getting your tasks done and those are great to remember, but you should also remind yourself of the consequences if you don’t get them done. For instance, maybe you will let your kids down by not picking up the school supplies they need, maybe you will let your employees down by not finishing the tax reports before the deadlines, or maybe you will let your boss down by not getting her presentation edited on time. Remind yourself that your non-completion of tasks can negatively affect you and those around you.

Make time for breaks and rewards. Self-discipline requires you to work even when you don’t feel like it, but no one can just work all the time. We all need to schedule breaks and rewards into our days (and weeks and years). Therefore, plan short breaks throughout the day and plan vacations (or staycations) throughout the year. This will keep you disciplined when it is time to work.

Organize your space. A clear desk or office helps you focus and work. If you are staring at all these other things that need to be sorted, filed, or cleaned, you won’t be able to get to the task at hand. Before you finish your work for the day, tidy up your workspace and have your next day’s to-do list ready to go.

Talk to yourself. Sometimes it is great to state your goals out loud because it allows you to verbalize and actualize what you plan to do. The verbalizing of the plan can also help you avoid distractions and procrastination. Thinking, “Okay, now I’m going to sit down and write next week’s column” gets me motivated and on track every week.

Keep your eye on the prize. You have your everyday to-do list, but those everyday tasks likely add up to something larger. What is your ultimate goal? Remind yourself of that goal and how your work each day will get you closer to it.

None of us feel good when we procrastinate. In fact, procrastination only makes us feel worse as this poem clearly expresses:

Putting it off only makes fear grow
Like a monster of abnormal proportion
Face it early and quick you will see
It is fear that gives life distortion

Do it now before you doubt
Or excuses will be your dictator
For if you don’t want to do it now
Then why should you want to later?
– Chelle Leigh


Let’s all gain some sitzfleisch and get things done. Then, we can all take a much-deserved vacation!


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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at [email protected].