Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do Something Different Part 4

Replace Habits with Discipline

I sometimes get a little snarky and say that America learned all the wrong lessons from WW2, namely "work will make you free", and get scowled at by my Polish-immigrant boyfriend (he's legal, it's cool), who spent his formative years driving distance from the place that had that sign hanging on its front gate. Of course, those of you who know me at all got hung up on the first 5 words of this sentence and need a moment for the rest of it to set in.

There we go. All together now? The fact of the matter, however, is not that we learned the wrong lesson, but rather that this sign was a bastardization of a truth (a policy which enabled Voldehitler to become so powerful in Europe in the first place), and that truth is that discipline will bring you freedom. It's not just the work part that's important, it's the discipline.

Here's what I mean. Below is the morning routine of someone who is working from habit:
8am: get up, get dressed, eat coffee, drink donut, arrive at work/desk
9am: pick nose for an hour and drink more coffee
10am: check email, Facebook, twitter
11am: start trying to do something productive
12n: lunch! hooray! 

I know I am guilty of some of this too, so don't feel like I'm trying to tell you how much better I am at working from discipline rather than habit; but let's take a look at the morning ritual of someone who's working from discipline:

8am: get up, get dressed, eat a good breakfast
9am: sit down at desk and figure out action plan for the day
10am: begin with item 1 on action plan, continue in this vein until it's time to take a break
12n: lunch! hooray!

This goes back to the segment on planning your work (which was really more of a time-management lecture, cuz I'm good at that), but the main difference between these two days is that on the first day, we'll call it Monday, I'm on auto-pilot and I don't really want to be productive, but on the second day, we'll call that Wednesday, I'm working with purpose because I've been nag-couraged by someone who loves me and wants me to succeed.

A lot of being self-employed is dealing with this vacuum left by not having someone hovering over your shoulder telling you what to do all day. You know what needs to happen, and when you decide to be disciplined about your work, you do it, but it's also really easy to pick your nose, drink coffee, and surf Facebook for two hours before actually doing anything. The other thing is setting your own hours and deciding that right now is blogging time, and not working time, working time will come later. Of course, that requires follow-up and getting some stuff done during your working time that is supposed to happen later.

You don't have to be perfect at this, (which is good, because you never will be - speaking as much to myself as anyone else), but you do have to practice on a daily basis. Have your morning routine, have your getting-ready routine (including music that makes you excited to start your day), but also make sure that part of whatever you end up doing before starting your day in earnest involves taking a look at your action plan. Being self-employed means that you are entirely self-directed in what gets done during your day, and that means you can't just float through the day doing whatever: you need a plan.

What's important to remember here, is that if you don't take the time to discipline yourself, someone else is going to do it. And if you're like me, you'd rather cut off your arms and legs with a chainsaw than ever work for anyone else ever again. So, get crackin'.

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