Working from home is becoming more than just a trend. More and more often, entrepreneurs are choosing to work at home, saving on office rent, rather than lose important time and money commuting and maintaining a space.
But working from home isn’t just for small businesses anymore. I recently worked with a senior level manager who took a new position at one of the Big 5 tech companies who was surprised to learn that he would be working from home, which was a big life change for him. He had grown used to the routine and conveniences of an office space. Now he had to build a new routine and create new conveniences at home. The difference was that whereas the office environment had provided that all for him, now he had to do it all for himself.
“I don’t know if I can work from home,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to be so distracted!” Plenty of home-based workers have had to overcome that same fear. Some actually embrace it and look forward to it. Either way, the commitment to working from home requires an intentional approach, as well as some new ways of.
Two tools that will help you succeed with working from home are familiar in any situation involving change: discipline and self-control.
- Discipline means doing what you’re supposed to do.
- Self-control is not doing what you’re not supposed to do.
The difference is subtle but significant. When you have discipline, you do eat your vegetables; when you have self-control you don’t eat the brownie. When you have discipline, you do focus on the person in front of you when they’re talking; when you have self-control you don’t check your email at the same time. You need both, or else one could sabotage the other.
Now let’s apply these two tools to working from home.
First, cultivate discipline. What do you need to do to make working from home a success?
- Maintain consistent office hours.
- Be obsessive about calendaring meetings with others.
- Keep everything orderly.
- Stay stocked up on office supplies.
- Get dressed, get out there, and meet with clients.
When you’re doing what you need to do to run a successful business, your discipline will help you stay focused and moving forward.
Now layer in some self-control. What do you need to not do–or, what do you need to avoid – to protect your plan?
- Don’t spend half your day puttering back and forth to the kitchen.
- Don’t take personal calls.
- Don’t let your office become a dumping ground for the family mail and junk that didn’t have a home.
- Don’t get lost on Facebook or skip out early every week for the baseball game.
Without self-control, you can sabotage all of your efforts at discipline.
The twin tools of discipline and self-control are helpful for any kind of change or improvement. Whether you’re focused on staying healthy, spending more time with loved ones, making a bigger impact at work, improving profitability, or yes, working at home, these two important traits will make the difference between the distraction and failure that everyone fears–and the success that is yours to come.
The previous article appeared on Inc.com as a part of my column, “Behind The Desk.” Look out for new columns every week!