Brainstorming · Projects

How to increase self-discipline as a self-employed person?

Andrew Loader Andrew Loader is a Content Marketer and Freelance Writer

November 23rd, 2016

Unlike my previous job where I had to work 9-6, 5 days a week, I don't really have a pretty good schedule here for myself. Now while working from home, sometime I work for a continuous 16 hours and then sometime I find myself I haven't looked at that project in the last two days as I spent it by browsing random projects on the internet, working on other things, watching multiple seasons of sitcoms or just brainstorming about product ideas that I can build in future!
I know that to make it as a self-employed person, one needs to have a good self-control. But, do any of you guys have been through this? How have you managed yourself? Does this gets better after a while? What should I do to make this better and be efficient?

Angela Leaney Founder, The Bespoke CMO. Advisory Board Member & Advisor

November 23rd, 2016

Ha, I feel you! It took me a year to get into a rhythm that was productive and yet not draconian and is most importantly, sustainable. I'll share it with you. It's a combination of every productivity article, book and video ever, plus trial and error, and what works for me (I'm a morning person, and my energy sags in the early afternoon).
1. Don't ever write a to do list, but create a timetable in which you assign tasks based on priority, difficulty and energy. Difficult gets done first, as it's generally also important and you feel amazing to get it completed, and successfully. Priority gets slotted in during the morning so if I miss my deadline, I have time available in the afternoon. Energy means do cerebral things early, and leave emails and invoices, etc until later. They require less of you, so do them when you have less to give. I do this daily, the night before.
2. Create accountability. For me, this is having a WBF (work best friend) with whom I share what I must do, she does the same, and we shame or guilt each other into doing it. Public declaration of intent generally increases possibility of execution.
3. I write down the purpose that drives every task. That way if my focus is drifting, I can easily pull myself back into it because I remind myself not what I need to do, but why it matters.
4. The rule that if you can get it done in 2 minutes, do it, is genius. You do everything faster, and those silly little "it can wait" things actually do get done.
5. I start each day with a conversation with a human being (emoji and texts do not count) whom I trust, like, love or respect and I find that sets me in the right frame of mind. Plus often gives me new business ideas or a way or introducing networking into my day without it seeming craven.
6. I allow myself a guilty treat every couple of hours. Shamefully, for me, it's playing Words With Friends, but I never claimed to be perfect, did I?
Good luck. And thanks for asking the question, because I look forward to learning from other answers. OK, now I'm off back to work.

Kaveh Golabi Change Maker

December 12th, 2016

Watch this every morning when you wake up.

Angela Leaney Founder, The Bespoke CMO. Advisory Board Member & Advisor

November 23rd, 2016

And BTW you don't need self-control. You need a plan.

Henry Daas Coach-Approach Strategic Advisor

November 23rd, 2016

It would be very self-serving to say you need a coach! In lieu of that, I like Angela's idea of a WBF to help keep you on task. I work A LOT with my clients on time management/task priority/distractions. It is part and parcel to being an entrepreneur. Yes, you need a strategy (plan) that takes into account your work style/ethic but first you need to determine WHAT that is. The strategy for a 'binge' worker will likely look very diffrent from someone who is OCD. But I will say to your credit that being mindful of your (bad?) habits is an important first step.

Michael Hartzell Entrepreneur, Addicted to "Yes" - When Everyone Wins

November 27th, 2016

Andrew,  Here are some thoughts, ideas and mindsets that I have used AND a few that others have used to evolve - and go big.

Everything is built twice. Create a calendar - and live by the calendar.  The calendar is your boss. 

When it gets tough, make a commitment to another human "this is on my list to do by Friday".  It is one thing to disappoint oneself but much tougher to be embarrassed when you don't keep the commitment to another.

Many with this same question set up "accountability partners". Each week they review the past, present and future commitments with each other.  Choose wisely.

Hire someone to be your coach. They provide positive accountability experience and a good business coach will provide much, much more.  

If you are working on activities you dislike.. not at the top of your preferred list, you will want to rethink your work/offering and/or consider how to mix it up with those work activities that keep you inspired.

If you create a calendar for the week or month... and create blocks of activities, you should be able to predict whether your week will be one of joy and motivation or full of grind and moaning. :)

Here is a great resource - a new way to think about your calendar and a free tool to help you stay motivate:

It talks about how I create calendar magic.  :)

These are ideas and resources... but to have a great answer for you specifically, more information would be helpful.

Sorry Andrew. It doesn't get better by itself. 

New habits don't pop from the sky. The above has worked for myself and many others. There are more "tricks" - but too much to cover here. I even blogged about a project I was working on once... to say "this is what I am going to do" -- all public.  Can't fail. :)

The difference today is that I have to jump out of bed knowing people I respect and appreciate depend on my "karate". I let them know in advance "here is what is going to happen' and then ---- it must happen.  There are no motivation issues because my carrot is their enthusiastic cheer.

If a person has no goals, no commitments, no one who cares about what they do and don't have anyone to truly care about....  then sure. I guess it would be easy to get distracted with other things.  So is it a discipline issue? An issue with doing work that is uninteresting?  or is it because there is no goals/commitments?   

I have taken too much of your time - but know this is important.
And because it is important, I will share a video that shows you why it matters --

Start simple. Make a list for tomorrow - three big things. 
At the end of the day, measure your success - and make another list of three. 

New habits start one day at a time. Then we realize it matters and it becomes more than just a habit.   :)

PitF Entrepreneur

December 14th, 2016

Got the same feeling some times. I think the most important is to prioritise your task. You also need to find out if you are a morning person or not. I tend to be more productive with strategic stuff in the evening, whereas in the morning I am good working off tasks that require a lot of work but less thinking.

One thing that I can say is a todo list does not work, but rather allocating different time schedules to different projects and/or tasks.