Most bosses love the self-starter type. The person who is willing to go the extra mile, ask for more work and then not only do it well, but finish it early.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t that type of person. And that’s okay! If you focused that hard on every little trivial task you’ve been assigned you will end up burning out before you ever make your mark, collapsing on your keyboard after seven straight hours of database updates. That’s bad for your image at work and the keyboard.
The trick is to learn how to manage yourself like, well, a manager. Maybe your boss is involved in every step of every project you have, or maybe you only see your boss as they leave the office at one in the afternoon to go play golf. Either way, a great method to keeping yourself on task without running into a wall is to manage your workload like you would manage employees. With that in mind, here are our tips on how to be your own boss, even if you’re not.
Divide Up Tasks
Do you have a job or project sitting on your desk that is more akin to an amorphous blob than a list of things to accomplish? When you stare at this behemoth of work, you have to be able to divide it up into smaller sections. Any good manager knows how to take an order or an assignment or even a business and divide it up into small sections to be tackled at different times. That is how you have to start looking at your work; instead of seeing it like some sort of terrible undertaking waiting to engulf you, give yourself sections of it to do at a time. These sections could be big or small, but the point is that you can begin to see the steps needed to finish a project before it threatens to consume every minute of your working life. Exercises like this also allow you to know exactly how far along you are when trying to accomplish something and will let you give your boss, your real boss, a great idea as to how far along things are.
I know it sounds a little silly, but having a list of things to do and checking them off one by one is quite satisfying. It’s almost as if you can physically watch your workload shrink, which is great for your overall motivation and well-being.
Have you ever had to fill out a self-evaluation form? Or sit nervously in a cramped waiting room for your turn to hear how your manager thinks you are performing? Most people dread evaluation; think too long about your faults and suddenly every little bump and mistake becomes a career ending problem. But evaluations can be useful if you get a bit of fair critique out of them. That is why evaluating yourself like a manager would evaluate an employee can be very useful to picking out your faults without feeling like a total failure. If you were your employee, what would you want to see improved? Do you procrastinate too much? Do you get caught up on the little details and lose sight of the big picture?
If nothing else, you will at least be able to avoid the “I sometimes just work too hard” answer – there is no one to impress but yourself. So take your self-identified weaknesses and try to work on them. Keep them in mind while working without completely obsessing over them. Like I said, the only person to impress is yourself so even if you end up working on one or two things, at least you’ve made that much improvement without any outside pressure forcing you to.
Don’t be Afraid to Talk with your “Colleagues”
We have a great relationship with our boss at MyCorporation because she is willing to listen to any advice given and is usually very open to talking with her employees. But most people may not have that type of relationship with their manager or boss; there is a certain level of fear that bubbles to the surface when talking to someone who can terminate your main source of income. If you can, try to see the person or people in charge of you as more of a colleague than a boss. That doesn’t mean regaling them with every detail of your life but, if you feel you have a good idea or suggestion, talk to them about it. And we mean talk – don’t stammer and look at your feet like they’ll somehow back you up. Eye contact and a bit of confidence make all the difference when getting someone to see you as their equal.
This advice works better in small offices than in gigantic corporations, but even if there is a middle manager that you talk to every so often, try not to treat them like an overbearing parent or stern school teacher. Instead, respect them as you would any other colleague; this both boosts your own self-confidence and can help get them to see you as more than just another employee.
The idea behind all of this advice is just to try and see yourself in a more imposing light. It can be easy to just assign your position as being just another cog in a machine, but doing that will kill your motivation and, before you know it, you’ll be doing the bare minimum until you can go home. In the end, you’ll be miserable and hate your work. So our biggest piece of advice is to size yourself up, be proud in your work and act like your own boss, even if you don’t have a corner office with a great view of the city.