As I’ve developed as a business owner, I’ve come to realise how vital self-discipline is for success. I work from home, and I set my hours, which, as you can imagine, can lead to a lot of procrastination and a lot of time wasting. I also can spend way too much time working, when I should be spending that time with my family, exercising, reading a book or anything else that makes me happy and relaxed. It is a balancing act and self-discipline helps me manage my time and get through everything important to me in a day. I know the same is true of Assistants. You have so much to do, your focus is often pulled in lots of different directions, and you wonder how you are going to get out of the office door to see your friends and family. It is relentless. This is where self-discipline can help Assistants gain some more control over their lives. Here are my tried and tested methods, that I have put into place, that can help you gain some self-discipline in your roles.
Self-discipline for Assistants
Know precisely what is expected of you. You will be much more aware of what you need to do in your working day when you know precisely what is expected of you. I know this is tricky when you are an Assistant with a sketchy job title, but you should at least have a conversation with your Executive about expectations. Once you have a clear idea of what your Executive expects, you can start to plan out the areas that require a little more self-discipline.
You don’t need to change who you are. You are awesome! You really don’t need to wake up tomorrow at 5am, meditate, drink a protein shake and power walk to the office. Instead, think about changing up a few habits that are holding you back from having the day that you want. Start small! Pick one thing that you feel keeps you back or stops you getting through all your work, or makes you feel overwhelmed. If you don’t have enough hours in the day, can you start to use a better to-do list that can help keep you focused, maybe you could set that alarm half an hour earlier, so you get into the office while it is still quiet. You will be amazed at what the little adjustments help you achieve.
Embrace your limitations. We often stress over all the things we have to do and think to ourselves. There is no chance we can get through all of this work. Well, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself you can’t get through it all, you won’t. Instead, you have to train your brain. Keep telling yourself that you have a certain amount of hours in the day, what are you going to achieve today. I have just started to give myself three tasks a day that I have to complete (generally I do a lot more, but I have to get these three tasks done). Only three things, it isn’t a lot, but I feel so much better now that I have that structure in place because I know I am getting stuff done every day.
Do it, even when you don’t want to. I know this one sucks! There are so many things I don’t want to do, but I make myself because I am a grown-up, and that is what we have to do! It is true in the Assistant role, make sure you get all of those tasks done that you don’t want to do, speak to the people you don’t want to, go to the meetings and events you would prefer to miss. Self-discipline is all about getting stuff done even when you don’t want to.
Keep a focused to-do list and log your time. Having clear expectations will help you here. If you know what is expected of you, have clear objectives and goals, you will be able to move from one task to the next without doubting yourself or what you are doing. At the start of every day, review your to-do list, so you have a plan in place and know what you want to achieve. It helps if you make your plans while considering the day ahead. So for example, on your to-do list, every day will the ‘check emails’. Make sure you give yourself a time limit, say 20 minutes and stick to that time. This makes it easier to be disciplined when you set yourself a deadline. I have 20 minutes to check emails, let’s get cracking!