Be your own “boss”

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This week I’m giving you the second tip in my new book. This is one of my favorite tips, actually. I think it’s applicable in many situations.

Be your own “boss” and delineate specifically what needs to be done. Then put on your “employee” hat and just get to work; no more deciding or second guessing or looking for new ideas.

This was the topic of podcast #43, Boss Hat/Employee Hat.¬†When you’re thinking like a boss, you are brainstorming, strategizing, evaluating and planning. When you’re in employee mode, you are executing, doing, completing. You can also think of it as thinking vs. doing.

When you understand that they are different and need to be separate, you can alternate the two activities. They inform each other, but they need to alternate, not happen at the same time.

The boss devises work for the employee based on the information she has gathered. Then the employee does the work. And sometimes runs into snags because things have changed and evolved. Then it’s back to the boss to re-evaluate based on this new information. And the cycle continues.

When you pingpong back and forth between these modes, you get stuck. You don’t get anything done because you don’t trust that you’re doing the right thing and don’t even get started. So the employee isn’t in doing mode.

The boss is stuck because she doesn’t want to take the time to think and plan because something needs to be happening now and the stress of that is distracting. Instead of planning, the boss is looking over the fence to the other side and trying to prod the employee into action.

Basically, they’re trying to do each other’s jobs, but not from the correct mindset. The boss can’t make effective decisions under pressure and in haste. The employee can’t be productive if she’s questioning and analyzing everything on the to do list.

A simple way to keep these separate is by doing them at different times. At the end of the workday, the boss reviews the day and makes plans for the next day and the rest of the week. In the morning, the employee gets started on that list of tasks and just does them, knowing that they are correctly prioritized.

You may find yourself leaning naturally more toward one role than the other, but it’s important to be able to do both, so spend some time improving your skills in your lesser realm.

If you lean too much toward “boss,” you may be making plans that never come to fruition. If “employee” fits you better, you may spend a lot of time doing stuff, but it’s not necessarily the important or valuable stuff.