In today’s episode, I’m answering the question: Do you need more discipline to work from home?
Particularly for those of us who work from home for ourselves, is discipline something that we need to be building in order to be successful?
Let’s dive in and find out!
First and foremost, here are three things that I want to say in response to this question…
1. If we do need more discipline to work from home, I am in a LOT of trouble
I am one of the least disciplined people I know. It is not something that I have ever been particularly good at.
I’m now starting to really uncover some of my brain’s specific challenges when it comes to focus and discipline.
Even in my school years and becoming a working adult in corporate, it’s obvious that my brain doesn’t work the same way that a lot of people’s brains work.
I have what would externally be referred to as a severe lack of discipline.
In school, my report card would always talk about how amazing and smart I am… but I distract everyone else in class. That’s me!
I have been a very successful student, I’ve been quite successful in the workplace and in my career, and I have a successful business, but I’m one of the least disciplined people that I know.
If you do need more discipline to work from home, I’m in trouble.
2. The word ‘discipline’ is masculine, patriarchal, and neurotypical
We see the belief that we need to be this type of person and that’s the requirement in order to be successful. But actually, the thing that typically we needed in order to be more successful was to fit patriarchal masculine structures.
And of course, one of those characteristics (ie. discipline, which is very masculine, patriarchal, and neurotypical) would be associated with success. Because success required that we played the game of operating in patriarchal structures, operating in masculine-orientated environments, and played the game of masking any neurodiversity so that we came across as neurotypical.
I see a lot of people get really upset at themselves or disappointed with themselves because they’re not disciplined enough.
The reason why we link the need for discipline to success is that discipline is what was required for us to cope or do well in previous environments.
3. You can be a kind boss to yourself and STILL be focused in your business
Yes, there are times when we want to be more focused in our business, and there are times when we want to be checking things off our to-do list. But I want you to be a kind boss to yourself.
We don’t need to build a business that fits this old mode
Rather than try and force yourself to fit this model of working that 1950s factory workers were rewarded for, you can be a kind boss to yourself and still be successful and get amazing results.
As much as I was told this when I first started my business by several really amazing mentors and business friends, I didn’t actually believe it for a long time.
People used to tell me that I’d catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but I would always give the excuse that I work better with really harsh deadlines and being strict with myself.
People would tell me that I’d get more done if I stopped, took a break, was kind to myself, and listened to my body. But again, I’d make the excuse that I work best when pushing myself really hard.
It took me a long time to unravel why I felt I needed to be so mean to myself.
A lot of that had to do with the fact that the times where I thrived most in a patriarchal structured environment, were when I had the harshest bosses, or people were really strict with me.
I’ve carried that belief system through into everything… But my business is not patriarchally structured. It’s not a masculine working environment.
It’s taken time and kindness for me to actually experience what it’s like to work in a work environment that I’ve built for myself, not what I’ve seen modeled in my past.
Those are the key things that I wanted to make abundantly clear in regards to whether you need discipline to work from home.
Here are a few little things that can help you to be more kind to yourself if you work from home and feel you need more discipline.
1. Structure is a kindness
I view structure as a kindness to myself that nurtures my creativity.
Even though I’m not a particularly disciplined person, when I have a loose structure in what it is that I’m doing, it frees up so much brain space.
For me, structure looks like having a clear but not rigid plan for my quarter and knowing what my priorities are.
My kind of structure is having short to-do lists of the most critical things. NOT having a list of 45 things and overwhelming myself.
I have three things on my to-do list a day.
That form of structure is a kindness. Once I’ve done my three things for the day, I then experience the feeling of success (because I’ve done what I needed to do today), and I experience the feeling of freedom (the rest of my day is free now, I get to choose what it is that I want to do).
It also creates a lot of creativity for me. It creates spaciousness for my creativity because I’m not carrying around ginormous to-do lists each day. I’m not worried that I might have missed something or it hasn’t been done.
The structure that I give myself creates feelings of success, freedom, and creativity.
When I first start working with someone and we’re having these conversations, the reason they resist structure is because they crave success, freedom, and creativity.
It’s so powerful to see the transformation that comes from realising that structure is actually the vessel to that success, freedom, and creativity. It’s not the barrier to it.
People so often resist it due to how stifling the forms of structure that we’ve worked with before have been.
The forms of structure that we thought we needed, or that we’ve been told are most effective for us, are stifling of our creativity. They stifle that feeling of freedom – they’re too rigid.
But that doesn’t mean structure in its entirety is the enemy.
It just means we need to find ways of creating a structure that nurtures success, freedom, and creativity.
For me, nothing nurtures those three things like having a short to-do list, ticking it off at the start of the day, and feeling like the rest of the day is my own.
I’ve won! Today, I won.
There is so much resistance to this because many people believe that they’re a high achiever and can get ten things done a day.
Often when I ask them how many times they’ve ticked off their entire to-do list by the end of the day in the past two years, the answer is very few times (if any!).
You can keep walking around convincing yourself that you are this close to being someone who finishes their to-do list (and never actually be that person). Or you can be kind to yourself and have more structure, but have that structure actually drive the feelings that you want to experience in your business.
Be a kind boss to yourself.
2. Have a great team
One of the things that allow me to be so successful without having to whip myself into having discipline to work from home is my team.
I have an amazing team. I have built that team to fill some of those gaps that I have.
I’m not necessarily a tick-off-all-the-things-on-the-to-do-list and map-out-a-very-detailed-project-plan type of person.
I have a big idea of the concept, and I have the mentality of just working it out as we go and seeing what trouble we get into.
But as a business owner, there are certain things that I do over and over again, and I’ve always found it challenging to document how I do it. It was a struggle for me to hand that over to anyone else because it was such an unwieldy unfolding kind of adventure every single time that I did it.
The people that I’ve hired in my team are really good at mapping out detailed step-by-step processes. They’re really good at watching me do something on a video and then creating the step-by-step checklist for themselves.
They’re very good at reminding me if I’ve missed something.
I never need to walk around worried that I’ve missed something.
I don’t experience that because I know my team will catch it. 99.9% of the time, my team will catch it.
I’ve surrounded myself with people who are really good at those things.
I don’t mind operating in a messy environment and a cluttered inbox. But that doesn’t work for customer service emails. That’s why I’ve hired someone (the amazing Grace) in the customer service role.
She needs the helpdesk to be finished, she needs all green dots on our helpdesk, and she is driven to keep it clean and tidy.
If it has got a little bit unwieldy and messy because of things that are waiting on me or emails that I haven’t answered, she will tell me that the inbox is looking pretty messy.
That’s perfect for me because one of my tendencies (if you look at the four tendencies from Gretchen Rubin) is to be an obliger.
(I personally think that’s programming into people pleasing, but that’s a whole other conversation about personality profiling.)
For me, having someone say that it’s messy and they just need me to do these two things for today is perfect.
My team know exactly how to get the best out of me.
There are two reasons for this:
1. I’ve told them how to get the very best out of me.
2. I haven’t hired mini-mes. I’ve hired people who have skill sets very different from mine.
That means it takes a bit of time, work, effort, and energy for us to learn how to work together effectively, but it’s worth putting that time and energy in because I know my needs are being met.
I don’t have to pigeonhole or square peg myself into the round hole of discipline to work from home.
I don’t ever have to do that, and that’s really powerful.
3. Masterminds and business buddies
I belong to a bunch of different masterminds.
It’s so important to me to have those virtual masterminds/business buddies and be able to sometimes get together in person with them.
At any point in time, if I’m frustrated with myself for not doing something, I can go into any of those groups and post about it, and someone will inevitably say that they’ll jump on a Zoom with me and do some co-working. Or they’ll give me a deadline and check in with me about whether I’ve done it.
I’m that person for other people but I really struggle to be that person for myself.
Having self-discipline is not in my wheelhouse.
Over the years, I’ve been in courses, I’ve been in paid masterminds, I’ve met people, I’ve interviewed people, and I just seem to collect business buddies and masterminds that I want to be part of.
Some of them I paid for, and some of them are self-run and free.
It’s been a really powerful experience for me because it means that it fills the gap when I can’t create self-motivated discipline.
4. Memberships that include co-working
I belong to two separate memberships that include co-working.
I LOVE co-working.
My Accelerator mastermind includes co-working, and the reason being is because I find having that dedicated time and space for working on something so valuable.
I try keep my camera on as much as possible when I’m in someone else’s co-working space. If I’m leading the space, I will sometimes turn it off so that I don’t distract people. But when I’m in someone else’s co-working space, I like to leave my camera on because when I feel like I’m being watched, I will do whatever I’ve said I was going to do.
At the start of the co-working session, if I’ve committed to writing my webinar follow-up sequence, then it would be silly of me to faff about and not do the work I’ve just committed to.
I do love memberships for co-working.
There are quite a lot of people in the Heart-Centred community that facilitate memberships with co-working.
Bev Roberts has a list growth club where if you need to put dedicated time and energy into activities that are going to grow your list, then you get a masterclass and you get co-working.
Claire Riley does the Batch-It Crazy program, which has batching and co-working and all sorts of stuff in there.
There are lots of them so I won’t try and list off all the people that I know who facilitate co-working, but there are definitely a lot of people that have amazing memberships with co-working in the Heart-Centred group.
I would happily pay $50 a month just for co-working time.
I love being in different memberships where they have co-working time. I’ve got multiple opportunities in my week to go and sit in a co-working space.
That time gets more and more protected in my calendar as I move forward.
I really, really love using co-working and being in memberships that have facilitated co-working, because it gives me that dedicated time and space where I can work with other people. It just feels really good for me and means that I don’t really need to have discipline to work from home.
I know both introverts and extroverts who adore co-working.
Those are four ways that you can really try to create a great working environment for yourself without getting upset at yourself that you’re not disciplined enough to work from home.
If you need any motivation to learn how to make working from home work for yourself, just think about it this way: Your options are to find ways to create an environment in which you’re effective at working from home, or you can go get a job.
When I think about it that way, I know that I will do everything in my power to never ever have to go and get a job again.
I will make working from home work for me.
If that means I need to invite local people to come to my house and host them once a week for a big co-working day, I will do it.
If that means I have to hire team members to literally send me my three tasks for the day every day, I will do it.
And if that means I have to set forty alarms on my phone, I will do it.
I am unrelenting in my pursuit of creating a great working environment for myself that feels good, lights me up, and creates those three feelings of success, freedom and creativity.
I’m unrelenting in my pursuit of those things.
If that means I need to do a bit of experimenting and I need to invest in a few things here and there, I’m willing to make that sacrifice so I never have to go into a job ever again.
That brings me to the end of today’s podcast episode.
I thought this would be a really great opportunity for us to use a #PinnedPod in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs community.
Come on over to the Heart-Centred Facebook group and look for the #PinnedPod in the announcements section of that group.
I’d love to have a little discussion about discipline, structure, working from home, and any aha moments or follow-up questions you might have from this episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.