Andrew (Jobacle editor) just asked me if I’d like to tackle the topic of improving self-discipline. I said, “Sure, as soon as I finish playing this game I downloaded to put off writing an article.” Oops – looks like my self-discipline could use a make-over…
But truthfully, being self-employed takes an incredible amount of self-discipline. Just as there are countless distractions in the traditional workplace, there are just as many in the home office. And when you don’t have a boss or co-workers observing, you can be tempted to slack off. It’s the mortgage statement that usually gets me back on track.
Here are some things that (usually) work for me:
1. Reward yourself – It might sound counter-intuitive to reward yourself for being disciplined, but it actually will reinforce that good, productive behavior. Sometimes when I’m on a tight deadline, I will “allow” myself the reward of getting away from the PC for 15-20 minutes to take a walk.
2. Work on breaking bad habits – We have certain behavioral patterns that can become entrenched and bad habits undermine self-discipline. Work on breaking bad habits, but don’t be too hard on yourself – changing behavior is a process.
3. To-Do List – An old chestnut for sure, but it works. Everything you read about productivity and time-management will tell you to work from a list. But don’t overload your list with killer, big-time stuff. Add smaller, easier-to-check-off goals. When you catch yourself feeling overwhelmed with the larger projects, switch to an easier one.
4. Take regular breaks – Studies have shown and books have been written about ideal time periods of productivity. Most agree that we function our best for periods of 60 to 90 minutes. Promise yourself that you will work intensely on something for that time period and then take a break. Start working on you own “Self-Discipline Improvement Project” and tell me how it’s going!
This career advice blog post is by Jobacle.com team member Nancy LaFever.