Recently my wife and I had a disagreement as to how to cut down on our television viewing time. I proposed we unplug it and store it in the basement. As crazy as that sounds, my wife had an even crazier idea: watch less TV by sheer willpower.
I am a man of extreme measures. When my knuckle-cracking habit became overwhelming, I stopped cold turkey. When I thought Erica was the one, I freaking bought a ring online and proposed hours after it arrived in the mail.
Although I’d consider myself moderately good at self-discipline, I tend to take extreme measures to course-correct any bad behaviors I find unworthy.
My idea to get rid of the television is an extreme measure. Sure, once the TV is packed away in the basement binge watching Netflix will be impossible. However, I’d be depriving myself of a valuable practice: willpower.
What is Willpower?
Self-discipline or willpower is a limited resource for every person. Psychologists believe we are given a set amount of willpower to help us make decisions throughout the day. The more decisions you make, the more willpower is consumed; thus depleting your reserve by the end of the day.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of outside influences that can raise or lower your willpower:
- Physical fatigue
For example, as my son becomes more aware of the world and requires diligent attention, I’ve noticed a drop in my willpower-tank. Couple this with my full-time job, household chores, and creative endeavors, by the time 8 pm rolls around, all I feel like doing is vegging out on the couch.
So what exactly is the trick to growing your willpower?
Exercise. I don’t mean going out for a jog or lifting weights, I mean putting into place systems and structures to automatically make decisions without depleting your willpower.
These systems are better known as habits.
5 Tools to Grow Your Willpower
Over time, habits (and I should clarify: healthy habits) allow us to grow our willpower by automatically making smaller decisions for us, hence leaving behind willpower to make larger or harder decisions later.
I’ve written before about starting habits, but how do we sustain them? To close, I’ll leave you with 5 tools I find to be extremely helpful to stay organized and keep my habits in place.
- Rewire – This simple app lets you track how many consecutive days you complete a task. As the chain grows, the easier it becomes day after day to complete a task. You can download it in the Google Play store.
- Evernote (affiliate link) – My life will never be the same thanks to Evernote. I am able to quickly store and organize my entire life with this single platform. Until I publish an entire blog post about this tool, I’ll refer you to the Evernote Master, Michael Hyatt.
- Microsoft Excel – Don’t you roll your eyes at me! I make a living creating reports and tools with Excel during my day job. But I also use it for personal reasons such as building and managing a budget, organizing my podcast schedule, and storing valuable login information for my student loans.
- Google Calendar – Any calendar will do, but Google Calendar is my favorite. I am a bit biased since Google Calendar syncs with everything on my smartphone and makes it easy to schedule and stay on top of tasks. But don’t just take my word for it, Google Calendar is a robust tool.
- Good ol’ pen and paper – Nothing beats the non-technical, archaic notebook and pen. I keep a notebook on me at all times to capture ideas, make lists, brainstorms, dream, and of course, write. But then I end up scanning my notes into Evernote. So there’s that.