READING TIME: 5 minutes
Discipline is not always a strong suit when it comes to describing many entrepreneurs, it just goes against their rebel nature. One of the main reasons they went out on their own is because they figured they could do a better job, make more money and have a better life, but to do it their way.
For many, their jack of all trade, get it done, whatever it takes attitude, helped them launch their business, but this not an enduring strategy if one wants to create a sustainable business. On second thought, it can be, if you enjoy long days, doing everything yourself and running around like your hair is on fire. Chances are though, this helter skelter approach to running a business won’t get you to where you want, because that requires discipline.
We can do whatever we want,
regardless if it’s productive or not.
Discipline is one of the most difficult habits for entrepreneurs to form. On any given day, distractions abound for these individuals. When coupled with not having a boss looking over your shoulder, it’s akin to leaving a child alone in a candy shop. We can do whatever we want, regardless if it’s productive or not.
This is why discipline is so hard. It’s almost like anti-freedom. It means you must do certain things, at certain times and these tasks become your new boss. However, over time, with enough practice this boss becomes your partner that shoulders much of the load. But first, you must embrace discipline, if you want to achieve freedom.
“I’ve got so much to do,
I don’t even know where to start?”
Embracing discipline means, identifying what’s truly important on a daily basis. In general terms, what’s truly important can be summed up as follows- “Any task that can move the business forward, by eliminating restrictions or generating revenue.” These important items can cover multiple areas of the business that range from preparing estimates to dealing with customer problems or handling those niggling HR issues. You need to make them your daily priority even though they may be unpleasant. By not addressing these, less than fun priorities, they start to pile up and eventually generate so much stress that it can become paralyzing. Just think how many times you have said, “I’ve got so much to do, I don’t even know where to start?”
A daily dose of discipline,
in exchange for tremendous freedom,
is a fair trade.
For many, it’s because we let other more interesting things distract us. Notice I said more interesting and not productive. These more interesting distractions often taking us down endless rabbit holes, that although keep us entertained, do little to move the business forward. Yes, discipline means doing things even when we don’t want to.
The Cambridge dictionary defines disciple as “the ability to control yourself or other people, even in difficult situations”. This sounds simple enough, but it’s easier said than done. For most of us though, we have to dig really deep to stay on task every single day. I know I have to. But to be honest, a daily dose of discipline, in exchange for tremendous freedom, is a fair trade.
Being individuals, it’s hard to prescribe a single solution that works for all, but here are 5 steps you can take to help you get those really important things done everyday that could help you to get that elusive freedom we all seek.
The 5 Steps
- Make a list of every single outstanding issue you need to deal with.
- Rank them by the most urgent to least urgent. Urgent should be those items that directly affect the business, good or bad. These are usually the things that keep you up at night.
- Circle the top 3 items and action them. This sounds simple enough, but this can be especially difficult when these items make you uncomfortable or where your natural instinct is to keep ignoring the issue. Layer on all other day to day distractions and your day will be full.
- Repeat this every day adding in new items, deleting completed ones and dealing with the top 3 and you’ll soon find yourself sleeping a little better and feeling more in control of your world.
- Lastly and probably most important, is to find that time of day when you’re most productive and creative. For me, it’s first thing in the morning, for others it’s late at night. Once you identify your most productive time, embrace and protect it. Use this time to complete those items that require deeper concentration. To be sure, some items just can’t be completed in the wee hours of the morning, like disciplining a staff member, as it’s usually frown upon to contact them a 5am. However, prepping for that meeting is something that can be done before the sun is up.
Identifying priorities in a business can be challenging, because when we’re overwhelmed, everything appears to be a priority. But getting things under control will require discipline. So, try the above 5 steps for the next month, because they say it takes 30 days to create a habit and this is one good habit to have.
So, if you’re tired of always being stressed out and not having time for yourself, maybe it’s time to apply a little discipline to your daily routine. Because discipline equals freedom.
I’m Greg Weatherdon and this has been your Small Business Minute.
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Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2018
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