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How to Be a Fantastic Boss to Yourself

by Arianne Foulks

August 18, 2015

How to be a good boss to yourself. You work for yourself because you want to have time for yourself and/or your family and because you believe in and enjoy what you're doing. So don't ruin it all by working yourself to exhaustion.

Creative business owners: join me to shape up our businesses! I have written an eight part series that will help you:

  • Increase efficiency and focus,
  • Enjoy your work more,
  • Reach your goals,
  • Learn to quit trying to do every darn thing that goes into running a business yourself!

How to Build a Successful Creative Business on Limited Time
How to Find Time by Cutting Back on Reactive Work
Shift Into CEO Mode and Get Help With the Rest
Kill Your To-Do List and Focus on ONE Thing
What Happens When We Resist Delegating Business Tasks
How to Make Time & Enjoy Your Work by Hiring Help
Do You Have Solid Systems for Your Business?

This is the final post in the summer shape up! But never fear, we are always shaping businesses up around here. It has been a joy to hear how everyone’s been working on their businesses this summer. I’ve seen everything from small steps to radical overhauls to people going back to their roots with a fierce sense of focus.

This has all been so great. I thought the best note to end this series on is this one: be a good boss to yourself. So important, and so easy to overlook.

Be a good boss to yourself

You work for yourself because you want to have time for yourself and/or your family and because you believe in and enjoy what you’re doing. So don’t ruin it all by working yourself to exhaustion. New businesses will require late nights for a while, but that can’t turn into your way of life.

If you aren’t at a point where you can hire help or scale back your own crazy hours, doing so should be your top goal. Set a goal date for when the craziness will stop and plan backwards to see what you could be doing now to reach that future goal of a comfortable schedule.

As you work, ask yourself:

Am I being a good boss to myself? Am I setting myself a reasonable work schedule, assigning achievable tasks, giving vacation time, rewarding good work, and supporting myself when things go wrong?

Am I being a good employee for myself? Am I getting my expected tasks done, focusing on important priorities, taking breaks to avoid burnout, doing work that I’m proud of?

Position yourself to succeed

If you ever feel like you have dozens of things to do and none of them are getting done, this one’s for you! A good boss would give you meaningful deadlines and would hold you accountable to getting things done.

Without deadlines and accountability, it’s a challenge to complete anything you set out to do for your business. You will find all of your time taken up with the day-to-day reactive work. If anyone else works together with you, work together on accountability. It may be a weekly meeting or check-in, or a calendar that you both review.

If you are a solo entrepreneur, it can help to find an accountability partner outside of your business. You can set up an in-person coffee date to review what you’ve each done, or you could be part of an online group that does the same.

If you notice that your work gets put off endlessly to “someday,” treat yourself the way you would want a good boss to treat you. Build in the accountability that will allow you to get your work done.

Allow your workday (and workweek) to end

I realized years ago that there will always be more to do and I will never ever be able to be done. It used to be when I finished the day’s to-dos, I’d start in on tomorrow’s to-dos or look for a new task to complete, to try to “get ahead.” One day I noticed I was never getting ahead, I was just getting exhausted.

Now, when I’ve finished the day’s 2-3 to-dos and emptied my inbox, I close the computer and pay attention to some other part of my life.

What about circumstances out of your control?

After years and years of working for myself, I’m finally in a place where I’m ultimately in control of how, where, and when I work. Not perfect or complete control, but I’m happy with it.

You might feel frustrated if your circumstances are more difficult. Maybe you have an infant, or young kids and no childcare. Maybe you need to work a full time “day job” and work on your business in the hours that remain. Maybe there’s no place in your house to be a proper office and you can’t afford to rent a space. Probably you aren’t at a point where you can hire help. You can still apply my ideas from this summer to your own situation, no matter how different it seems.

I have five hours a day. Maybe you have one. During that one hour, you can still focus, avoid distractions, and prioritize your most important thing to chip away at.

If you are persistent and stick to the pursuit of your goals and plans with purpose and dedication, you can get your business to a point where it’s a joy, and much closer to what you were picturing when  you decided to be your own boss.

How to do this yourself?

I talk about this kind of stuff in the newsletter, and if you subscribe, you can be sure not to miss any tips and ideas.

Where are you at?

I’d love to hear where you’re at! How are you doing with your business? Burning the midnight oil? Thinking of hiring help? Have a staff and a plan? Do you hire out certain jobs, or try to do it all yourself? Do you balance your work with caring for young children, or working at another job? Do you take vacations, and if so, how do you manage it? Do you want to stop doing the day-to-day work, or do you relish it?

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