© 2014 Elena Fawkner
Allow me to let you in on a little secret you're probably
already wise to anyway. As often as not, the inspiration for
article topics comes from struggles with my own personal
demons. Writing about them is my way of giving myself a
good talking to (a.k.a. kick in the rear end). And so it
is with this one - the personal discipline demon.
It wasn't always like this. There was a time when I
could and would happily sit at my computer for hours at a
stretch. Doing this, doing that. Reading email, reading e-
books, doing research for articles, writing the next issue of
AHBBO. It used to be fun, something to do in my off-time.
A break from the grind, if you will. But now that it's my
official job two or three days a week it's not so much fun
as it is work.
So, what's changed? Quite simply, my online business
has gone from something I always *wanted* to do to
something I *have* to do. And that, alas, is my demon.
As soon as I *have* to do something, I start playing the
same mind-games that I played back in school when I
wouldn't start an assignment until the absolute last
minute. I told myself it was because I worked well on
deadlines. What it really was, of course, was procrastination.
With a capital P.
Does any of this sound familiar? If not, perhaps you're just
one very focused, very self-disciplined individual. Good for
you. Now go away.
Or maybe you just haven't been doing this for long enough
yet. You can stay. Think it won't happen to you? Maybe
not. But if you're reading this at work when you really
should be doing something else, like what they pay you for,
you may just want to entertain the teensiest possibility that
So, for those of us mere mortals with actual lives and who
start businesses out of our homes for quality of life reasons,
you'd better get a handle on this demon and quick about
it too. Because if you don't, it will slowly but surely bring
about the end of life as you know it and you'll be back to
the 9 to 5 grind at your J.O.B. before you can even *think*
about turning on The Young and the Restless. (Just for
background noise, of course.)
OK, so, enough about what can happen and why and on to
what you can do to make sure you get to keep the best of
all possible worlds. Here are six tips for getting the job
1. SET A SCHEDULE
If you approach your business with the attitude that you
can do whatever you want, whenever you want, guess what
happens? You do whatever you want, whenever you want.
And the stuff that needs to be done but which you don't
particularly feel like doing doesn't get done. Ever.
Lesson #1 - there's no such thing as being able to do what
you want whenever you want all the time. It's a fact
of life that sometimes we have to do that which we would
prefer not to do. The best you can hope for with your own
business is to choose the time for doing.
So, instead of seeing your days as a big, blank canvas,
ready for you to paint as and when you feel like it, decide
which hours of the day you are going to allocate to working
in your business. And stick to it. Of course, the huge
advantage you have in running your own business over
working at your J.O.B. is that you get to choose what those
hours shall be. Want to start at 6 am and finish at 2 pm?
No problem. Want to start at noon and finish at 8? Go for
it. But do it.
And when it comes to scheduling, don't fall into the trap
of thinking that just because you live where you work you
have to work seven days a week. Be sure to schedule some
entirely work-free days. That's MY big lesson from the past
few months. I was making the mistake of working at my
J.O.B. for three days and then working the four days I was
home in my business. Got to the point where I was sick
to death of it. All of it. So I started taking weekends off.
Much, much better. I'm actually starting to enjoy working
2. DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE, NOT WHAT YOU'D RATHER
It's all very well to set a work schedule and stick to it, it's
quite another to spend that time doing what has to be done
rather than what you'd rather be doing. Sure, we'd ALL
prefer to read and respond to email than write the next
chapter of our e-book. Reading and responding to email is
easy. Writing is hard! But reading and responding to email
won't grow your business. Creating new product lines will.
3. ALLOCATE ACTIVITIES ACCORDING TO CONCENTRATION
Following on from the previous point, if you're spending the
first three hours of your peak concentration time reading and
responding to email rather than writing the next chapter of
your book, you're doing the right things at the wrong time.
Yes, you do need to read and respond to your email but it's
not an intellectually demanding task. Do it when your brain
is winding down, not when it's at its sharpest. Do the hard
work when your brain is at its best.
4. KEEP DISTRACTIONS TO A MINIMUM
Doing the right things at the right time is all for nought if
you're going to be interrupted every ten minutes. Turn OFF
the email program that chimes every time you get new mail.
Most likely it's NOT a new order and, even if it is, it will still
be there at the time of your next allocated email check.
Similarly, let the answering machine answer your private
phone. Get a second line installed to be used exclusively
for your business. And let the machine get THAT when you're
not working. Maintaining separate worlds as much as possible
is the best way to avoid burnout.
5. BE FLEXIBLE BUT ACCOUNTABLE
The best-laid plans of mice and men and all that mean that
you need to be flexible in response to an unanticipated
change in your schedule. If something comes up that needs
your attention when you had intended to be working, by all
means attend to it. Just make up the time later on. It's
swings and roundabouts. It all comes out in the wash.
6. CARROTS WORK BETTER THAN STICKS
Finally, my favorite tactic. Reward yourself for getting the
job done. Nothing motivates me more to finish a set project
that the knowledge that when I do, I have full permission to
curl up on the couch with a good book for a couple of hours.
Give yourself an incentive to get whatever it is done. Then
you can truly enjoy the best of both worlds. You can relax
and enjoy whatever your reward is, free of the guilt that
comes with knowing very well you should be doing something
else, and with the certain knowledge that you've taken care
of business first.
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Elena Fawkner is editor of Home-Based Business Online.
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Tuesday, 20-Apr-2021 15:12:32 CDT