by Tasmin Sabar | Featured Contributor
When you’re a new entrepreneur who has made the transition from 9-5, there are many changes to your routine to adapt to. You go from the relative structure of the day job with it’s set routine, to making the rules yourself and being entirely responsible for your own schedule.
One of the main challenges is to set your own deadlines and create a productive strategy around what needs doing, which in turn, ensures progress towards your business goals.
However, without proper self-discipline, it can be easy to lose track of time, have unproductive days or just fail to make progress on the most important and impactful tasks in your business.
That’s why self-discipline is one of the key skills to develop to boost your daily productivity and achieve your big milestones and your daily goals.
Here are 5 tips to help you enhance your self-discipline.
- Realize that Self-Discipline Needs Practice
Whilst it would be wonderful if you could just effortlessly make the transition and wake up on your first day as a new entrepreneur with everything figured out and the perfect system for you in place already, the reality is that this most likely won’t be the case.
In the same way, you don’t start a new job knowing all the systems and procedures of the new organization, figuring out what works for you in your new role is a skill that needs to be practised and developed.
It might take a while to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner, how you work best and what accelerates your productivity and what holds it back.
It’s likely you will try a few different approaches and have a few honest conversations with yourself about what does and doesn’t work for you.
Speaking your truth in this way helps you address excuses head on. It also helps you identify when you need to work on the self-discipline, when it’s something that you just don’t enjoy doing and would be better off delegating or when you’re just plain avoiding something you really need to do.
Give yourself the time to develop a system that works for you.
- Remember the 80/20 Rule
Practising self-discipline with your workload is an essential part of the transition. One of the key challenges in this area is making sure that you are spending the valuable working hours you do have on the tasks that are going to move your business furthest the quickest.
Using the 80/20 rule in this situation is a huge advantage. If you haven’t come across this before it is also more commonly known as the Pareto Principle and it highlights the fact that most business owners spend only 20% of their time on the most valuable tasks within their business with the remaining 80% spent on trivial ones. Similarly, roughly 80% of the results in your business come from 20% of the efforts.
Your role as a business owner is to identify and then focus on the truly vital 20% of tasks. The remainder of them can be delegated, deferred, automated, outsourced or where possible discarded altogether.
This might sound difficult to do at first but once you are disciplined about applying this rule you will see the benefits both in terms of the results within your business and your life.
- Schedule Your Most Important Task for the Beginning of the Day
We’ve all been in that situation where we have a big task before us and it’s the most important one that is going to get us the biggest results. But for some reason, we put it off. It might be the magnitude of the task, or that doing it will push us out of our comfort zone.
We tell ourselves that we will do it later when we have cleared our to-do list and we get to the end of the day with the task not even close to being tackled.
We tell ourselves that we will look at it “first thing in the morning. Only to repeat the same pattern the next day and have it hanging over our head for way too long. If you habitually put off tasks in this way, one way to address this is to get into the habit of tackling this type of task first thing.
Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog, talks about the benefits of doing this.. He described your “frog” as your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results now.
He emphasizes the importance of this task and says that your ability to select your most important task at each moment, then to get started on that task and to get it done both quickly and well, will probably have more of an impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop
He goes on to say “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
In other words, if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first.
Routinely tackling your biggest most important tasks at the beginning of the day and being disciplined with this practice will increase your productivity hugely.
- A Morning Routine Will Enhance Productivity
When you first make the transition to entrepreneurship, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of tasks that need to get done. It can be tempting to get into scarcity mode with your time and get into the mindset of “not enough hours in the day”.
This feeling can be more pronounced if you are not using the time you do have wisely for example working on the things that are not going to give you the biggest bang for your buck or not having a productivity routine.
Having a morning routine ensures you start your day right and focused on being productive from the outset. Hal Elrod in his book The Miracle Morning
talks about the concept of “habit stacking” which is picking the habits that you want to practice and making a sequence out of them so that the new sequence becomes a habit itself.
This helps you adopt multiple good habits, automate your behavior to do the entire sequence and as a result, helps you start the day with intention, using a variety of powerful tools such as meditation, visualization.
Beginning the day in this way means you start the day with the right mindset – essential to achieving self-discipline and focus throughout the day
- Self Care Is An Important Part Of The Puzzle
Just as starting the day with a morning routine helps set you up for a productive day, prioritizing self-care also helps with self-discipline. When you’re busy, it can be easy to miss breakfast and get straight onto the computer, or on the phone checking your emails.
Before you know it, half the day has passed, and you’ve forgotten to eat, you’re feeling tired, unproductive and start to make mistakes. You might think you’re working but, you’ve been distracted for most of the morning on social media.
To perform at your optimum, taking time to rest and time for scheduled mealtimes is essential. It’s also a great boost for self-esteem as you tell your brain and body that they matter just as much as your clients and customers do.
Likewise, taking time to switch off from your business is key to achieving self-discipline, productivity and reducing burnout. Switching off is a foreign concept for many new entrepreneurs but many of the most successful ones take time to shut the office door at a certain point every day. Switching off helps us to ensure that the time we do spend in our business is productive.
Arianna Huffington says “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”
Working in a focused and disciplined manner ensures the time you spend in your business is quality time. This, then leaves time for the essential task of self-care.
Self-discipline is only hard if you keep telling yourself it is. Make it a practice, work on what matters, be disciplined with your time and see how much difference that makes. In the end, self discipline brings multiple rewards in both business and life.