If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me they don’t know how I work at home with “all those distractions”, Of course, we all know that working remotely with success takes real discipline. The kind of discipline that keeps you at your desk when no one will know if you’re not. The kind of discipline that keeps the television off, and your brain switched on.
I’ve heard people say we’re born disciplined, or we’re not, but I don’t believe it. Anyone can learn to be disciplined in their work--even when working from home. If you’re looking to be more disciplined, here are some tactics that can help.
Note: These are not original ideas and I do not have the source to give credit.
1. Plan your day.If you don’t know what you need to do, or what’s coming up, it can be difficult to maintain your discipline, since there’s no pressure. A first step to being more disciplined is to set aside time in your calendar for every task you need to do. Some of the time slots and tasks may change, but this plan will at least set your expectations for what you need to achieve.
2. Plan your breaks.Put your daily tasks into your daily schedule too, along with “legitimate” work breaks, like lunchtime. Build them into “break” time around your other tasks, or slot them in at lunch. If you plan those tasks, you’ll know you’ll get them done, too, which will get them off your mind and allow you to focus on your work.
3. Chunk tasks and set time goals.Look at each work job you need to do today, and think about what’s involved.
By breaking those large tasks down into smaller chunks, and estimating a timeframe for the completion of each, you give yourself mini-goals that are easy to achieve, and give you a continuous sense of progress. You ‘ll probably also get a bit of a kick out of beating your estimate now and again.
4. Develop a reward strategy.Your reward strategy is a way to pat yourself on the back for your achievements during the day.
It might involve a coffee break, an exercise break or five minutes to catch up on the news. Long-break rewards should be slotted into your schedule, so you can see them on the list and they can help motivate you to get through your tasks. But use your breaks strategically, so that you’re duly rewarded for your discipline at logical points through the day.
5. Make delivery promises, and stick to them.To build that sense of external accountability, start making unprompted promises to deliver work to your colleagues. I’m not just talking about big-ticket deadlines; I’m talking about everyday tasks that contribute to your colleagues’ projects. Making a commitment to deliver to someone will almost certainly help you to be more disciplined about the way you work, and the way your prioritize what you have to do each day. Having someone else’s expectations to live up to is a great motivator.
6. Do something you enjoy.I find that if I’m passionate about what I’m doing, I’m usually pretty disciplined about it.
Even if you’re having an off day, it’s much easier to be disciplined about your tasks if you believe in them. If you feel like the things you have to do are pointless, meaningless, or a waste of time, you’ll probably be more attracted to playing with the pooch or watching television than getting the job done.
What do you think supports a disciplined approach when you’re working from home?