It's easy to think of discipline as a disheartening series of hurdles interspersed with all kinds of snares, but in its simplest iteration, discipline is merely a muscle — one that can be toned and shaped with time and attention.
In the interest of practicality, I will always urge you, beloved reader, to take notes when it comes to building your day (because life is long and our memories treacherous.) Take notes, whether they are schedules, diary entries, or snatches of insight gleaned from your book or movie of the moment. Taking notes allows your internal din to be dimmed to a faint echo because it helps screen out all the noise you've been carrying with you. Taking notes allows your mind to breathe.
Since we've established that discipline is a muscle, it's worth paying attention to not only your needs, and the needs of anyone you might be nurturing, but doing what I like to call 'honest accounting'. What can you legitimately do in any given day without burning through your scant resources? It's no use imagining you can run on fumes: that way lies bedlam.
A lot of our so-called responsibilities can be filed under busy work. Doomscrolling on social media to do 'research' on the psychological ramifications of internet addiction? Cute, but since we're all high on our own supply at this point, such an activity is essentially a cognitive false positive and can be safely filed under busy work. Social media is not a marketplace of ideas. Like fast food, social media has always been about empty calories sautéed with synthetic ingredients; brain-clogging disposability is baked into the design of social networks. Fun? Yes - at least sometimes. Busy work? Also, yes.
So do take honest accounting into consideration when building your day.
Realism is your friend here. How long will it legitimately take you to get to work or school or the gym or to that family reunion you've been dreading or that date you've been daydreaming about? Practicality and common sense never sound sexy, but adroit time management, an invaluable key skill that can be mastered at any age, means more vigour and vim to really get down and dirty.
I hope this strange world, with all its strange rules and rituals, rises to greet your expectations of it. In the meantime, we take notes. As Nora Ephron knew, 'everything is copy'.
Now go forth and flourish.
Image by DIRIYE OSMAN.
Song of the moment: 'Long Way to the West Side' (Mashup) by ARIANA GRANDE x CASSIE.