With an insane amount of distractions constantly competing for your attention, staying disciplined as a remote worker can be tough.
After all, you can take a break whenever you want, and no one’s watching over you. So it’s all too easy to linger on social media longer than you should or compulsively check your emails to avoid getting to the challenging tasks on your plate.
Instead of succumbing to those distractions and procrastination, we’ll show you how to be more disciplined when working from home in this article.
Follow these six strategies, and you’ll build up your self-discipline muscles in no time:
1. Understand What Discipline is When Working Remotely
You’ll find plenty of definitions for the word “discipline,” but here’s one of the best ways to look at it:
Discipline is doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, even if you don’t feel like doing it.
That latter part is often the hardest to do.
However, having the discipline to take on and power through demanding tasks is an incredibly crucial skill when you’re working remotely. Without your boss physically close by, you have to be able to hold yourself accountable.
Discipline is also a prized transferable skill you can build up and use in every job throughout your career.
So use this definition as a daily reminder that in order to have discipline, you need to roll up your sleeves and commit to doing what needs to be done (despite everything in you wanting to do something easier or more fun).
Once you have that down, these other five tips will help get you there.
2. Create a Schedule the Day Before and Stick to It
Do you start your day browsing social media, reading articles, checking texts, and then, at some point, sitting down to set your daily to-do list?
Imagine if you skipped all that and had your plan laid out ahead of time. Then all you’d have to do is show up and get right to work.
That’s discipline in action.
Knowing what needs to get done before you start your day makes it easier to prioritize tasks. Then you can create your work from home schedule around what you need to work on first.
When it’s time to sit down and get cracking, you’ll jump right into a productive state of flow.
Work on your hardest tasks or the ones you don’t really want to do first.
Your energy levels, focus, and motivation will be highest first thing in your work day. So you’ll be in the most optimal state to complete these to-do’s and tackle something complicated you’ve been dreading.
Plus, finishing a challenging task early in your day will take a huge weight off your shoulders. You’ll feel supercharged to keep your productive momentum going. And everything else that comes later will seem so much easier to get through.
On the other hand, when you start your day knocking out smaller, less critical tasks, you’ll quickly run out of steam and feel as if you’ve accomplished very little. You’re also more likely to push that giant boulder of a task off to tomorrow, leading to procrastination and stress.
That’s the total opposite of having discipline.
So identify and get that big boulder out of the way when you’re planning your daily to-do list ASAP. Then the smaller rocks you come across later will seem like jellybeans.
3. Create a Distraction-Free Work Zone
Understanding discipline and having a prioritized schedule in place won’t guarantee that your discipline will grow. Distractions threaten to sabotage even the best-laid plans. So you need a strategy for slaying distractions too.
Turn on airplane mode. Setting your phone to silent and keeping it by your desk will still let little distractions creep into your vision. Go into full-on airplane mode while you’re in a work block, and nothing should steal your attention.
Don’t forget to turn off Slack, social media, and email desktop notifications. These update chimes can also wreak havoc on your focus.
Find a more productive work environment. If you’re working from home, avoid the temptation of having the TV on as background noise (it’s far too easy to wander in and out of shows and lose concentration). Consider listening to instrumental music to help you focus instead.
While it’s nice to be able to work from anywhere, if you’re too distracted by people watching to meet your deadlines, it’s time to rethink your mobile office.
Consider working in distraction-free locales that allow you to get into your flow state sooner, such as a library nook or coworking space. You’ll find it’s much easier to get your remote work done when others are also in the same productive headspace.
4. Set Weekly and Daily Goals
Another great tip for building more discipline is to set a few goals for yourself.
You can set yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals to help you stay on track and monitor your progress. Start by creating realistic daily goals, then add in some weekly ones, and keep going from there.
But don’t just write down a goal you want to achieve. Outline the steps you’ll take to make accomplishing that goal a reality.
For example, you might have a goal to apply to one new remote job per day. To do this, you’ll need to:
Now you have a roadmap to follow to help you reach that goal. So do this for each goal you set for yourself, and just stick to the plan.
Working toward the bigger picture allows you to build momentum as you complete each subtask. It also provides a way to hold yourself accountable. No one else will keep your feet to the fire when you’re a remote worker, so you must learn how to do it yourself.
5. Take Strategically Planned Breaks
While remote workers can technically take breaks anytime they want, a better approach is timing those breaks with certain milestones.
You may take a break after working a specific number of consecutive minutes. Follow the Pomodoro Technique, for example, and you’ll score a five-minute break after working for 25 minutes.
Or you might decide to wait until you reach a specific stopping point in your tasks. Social media managers might take a break after performing keyword research and then another after they update their content calendar.
Knowing a planned break is ahead can motivate you to keep pushing through your to-dos instead of bailing whenever you feel like it. You’ll likely notice that you get even more done than you anticipated.
Either method also serves as a nice reward for reaching those predetermined points in your work day. You’ll feel as if you truly earned and deserve that time away from your desk.
6. Use Meditation, Visualization, and Journaling to Your Advantage
Super productive remote workers also carve out time in their busy days for meditation, visualization, and journaling.
Picture someone training for an Olympic sport. On top of going through their daily practices, they also visualize themselves reaching their goal. They often meditate on this and journal about things that may be holding them back that they’d like to overcome.
These three key components will help strengthen your discipline muscle via the mind-body connection.
Use meditation and visualization before important meetings. Spend some time journaling the night before to envision a successful next day. Or find your center each morning to give yourself the confidence boost to tackle anything that comes your way.
Meditation and visualization alone obviously won’t do the heavy lifting for you. But they can put you in the right mindset to be your best self.
There’s no denying it; remote work can be distracting if you let it. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way.
By following the six tips we shared today, you’ll become less distracted and more disciplined. This newfound productivity will help you get more work done in less time. You’ll also be better equipped to produce your best work.
That’s the power of discipline in action.
So give it some practice, and see where it takes you.
If you’re still struggling to knock out your tasks, you might want to look for a remote job you’re actually passionate about. We can help with that! 😄