Self-Discipline at Work is a 21st Century Tool You Need to Master
We live in a time where self-discipline at work is increasingly hard to maintain. So much exists to distract us that never existed 10 or 15 years ago. It is arguable that social media is the single biggest drain on productivity in the workplace. Back in 2013, when social media usage was in its infancy, HuffPost reported that social media usage was costing US companies alone $650bn a year. That figure is undeniably higher now and it translates to a significant number of minutes per hour in lost productivity purely down to lack of self-discipline at work.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The list of other potential workplace distractions is quite comprehensive. Coffee breaks, text messages, co-workers, personal issues – all these things, or just one of them, can take you away from the task at hand and drag your productivity down. But all these things boil down to one element – a lack of self-discipline. It may sound harsh – you’re only human and not a robot – but you weren’t hired to join a country club. Whilst employers nowadays are acknowledging that they must value their employees and create workspaces that are engaging, welcoming and a desirable, this does not mean you can spend what amounts to two to ten hours a week on matters other than work.
There are some simple strategies that can help you become more focussed, and recapture that self-discipline at work that you know you had when you first started in your current role.
Start With The Basics
Don’t ever be late for work. Being late shows classic lack of self-discipline. It sounds trite, but be on time for work, every day, it will be noticed, and you will have achieved something that seems to be beyond the capabilities of a great many people. This is a great habit to get into and you can reinforce it each day.
Good Results Require Hard Work
A fairly obvious statement but many people seem to forget that there within the chain that goes from decision to action to results includes solid work, and that requires clarity of thinking and yes, self-discipline. Continually avoiding the ‘action’ element and thinking you can go from ‘decision’ to ‘results’ without breaking a sweat or at least applying yourself to the task at hand is a road to ruin. Some tasks can be easy can you can lull yourself into a situation where you’re just coasting, and your results are adequate but middling. If you’re tired of not getting the results you actually want and having to settle for less, then perhaps you can make the important leap and accept that some of your goals will require you to achieve them with hard work and lots of disciplined, focused action.
For some, shutting the door to their office may be enough to help sustain their attention. For others, not logging into personal emails and social media, turning off cell phones, or blocking non-essential websites are better strategies for maintaining focus. To begin the process of eliminating distractions, go about your day as you normally would. Every time your attention is taken from your task, make a note of what it is that distracted you. Over a few days, you will see patterns or categories of distractions emerge, and identifying these will help you decide how to avoid them. Remember, changing how you work will take time, so be patient as you eliminate distractions from your workday – competing priorities and urgent tasks are often a fact of life, and sometimes, removing all distractions is just not practical 100% of the time. But self-discipline will help you maintain your focus in the face of nonessential interruptions.
Change Your Perception About Self-Discipline
According to a study by Stanford University, the amount of willpower a person has is predicated b their own personal beliefs. So, if you have somehow convinced yourself that you only have a limited amount of willpower, well, surprise-surprise, you probably won’t surpass those limits. But if you don’t place a limit on your self-discipline at work, you are far less likely to exhaust yourself before meeting your goals.
In short, it may be that our internal conceptions about willpower and self-control determine how much of them we have. If you can remove these subconscious obstacles and genuinely believe you can do it, then you will give yourself an extra boost of motivation toward making those goals a reality.
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