You the Boss: “You gave your word. You have to send out 3 queries by the end of today. Now get off Facebook.”
You the Employee: “Yeah I know, but I can always do it tomorrow.”
You the Boss: “You’ve said that for a week!”
Does this sound familiar? We promise ourselves, and our ‘boss’ selves, that we’ll do it… tomorrow… tomorrow… tomorrow….
The hardest thing we do as freelance writers is navigate the role of boss and employee. We have to step up.
The best way to act as both is by conveying respect, motivation and encouragement.
If you had a boss other than yourself, you wouldn’t dare tell them you’ll do something tomorrow. Show your ‘boss’ self some respect. When you say you’re going to do something, do it.
In an office setting, the boss is watching you. Everyone around you is in work mode. Nobody takes a break until a specified time.
These are psychological triggers that keep you motivated. When they’re not there, you’re not so motivated. So make your own at your home office.
Here are some examples of my psychological triggers:
- Plant the Butt: I think about my girls who are at school and have to stay in their seats for 55 minutes at a time. If they can do this, so can I.
- Ride the Wave: After my scheduled break, I tackle some of the easier things. Before long, several small things are accomplished, which then triggers more motivation to push and do more.
- Blank Screen Syndrome: Always start with HOW, WHEN & WHY. This is almost fail-proof and triggers ideas.
- Guilt Trip Prevention: Stick to what the boss self wants done so when it comes time to ‘clock out’ the boss isn’t laying guilt trips!
You aren’t programmed to encourage yourself. We have no problem encouraging our co-workers or our family, but we’ve learned to find self-encouragement uncomfortable.
Accept in your head that it’s not YOU, but rather your boss encouraging you. Now, as the boss, be honest and give praise where it’s due!
You Can’t Pull a Rabbit Out of Your Butt
A blank schedule subconsciously tells the brain that there’s time to meander through e-mails or respond to silly Facebook posts.
Guilt ensues and you start to come up with some quickie IPA (income producing activity) that will make up for lost time. It’s like trying to pull that rabbit out of your butt — it just can’t be done.
In the meantime, you’re beating yourself up over why in the world you didn’t plan today, yesterday. [Why didn’t you, by the way?]
Now you-the-boss says to stop wasting time and get to work.
But you-the-worker says, “You’re not the boss of me!” And to demonstrate this, you stubbornly continue goofing off while, inside, your boss self is enraged.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Tit for Tat Syndrome
Your boss self and your employee self are playing games that result in a lack of trust and respect, as explained in an article on Brainpickings:
Consider the following: two well-intentioned people adopt the TFT strategy for deciding whether to be cooperative with each other. All goes well for a while, but then one of these unintended slights occurs. Person A believes that Person B “defected” on her (whether defection here means intentionally revealing a secret, skimming profits, not working hard enough, etc.), when in actuality Person B’s behavior was accidental (i.e., she didn’t intend to act in an untrustworthy manner). Assuming they both adhere to TFT, the death spiral begins.
This tit-for-tat game between your boss self and your employee self completely disconnects your brain and heart. You need to get back on track fast. Here’s how in 3 simple steps:
1. Plan Tomorrow TODAY!
Write down the things your boss self wants done. Prioritize them. Pick two things to do first thing tomorrow morning. List the steps of how you’re going to do these two things.
2. The Pooper Scooper
Clean up your crap. Take a few minutes and clear off your workspace. A de-cluttered work space produces a de-cluttered brain.
3. Tricks for Staying Focused
It’s all about the brain/heart connection:
- Get into the zone. This is a state of mind where your heart and your brain are aligned so that you are able to be productive. Focus on how, when and why.
- No negative self-talk. It is a proven fact that the mind can only process one thought at a time. The heart listens to the mind, and vice versa. Keep them aligned so they work with each other and not against each other.
- Balanced emotion. Sometimes tunnel vision is a good thing. It’s important that you be able to avoid information overload. Just look at the first step, then the second, etc.
The Emergency Tool: CH-CH-CHING!
CH-CH-CHING resembles the sound you hear on a cash register, which symbolizes income. There are 3 steps to this emergency tool all starting with ‘Ch.’ The idea is to reel your brain back into an “income producing” state of mind. So try these simple things:
1. Chunk your time
Choose a project that needs your attention and plant yourself for 50 minutes.
For most people, it takes about 15 minutes just to get to that ‘in the zone’ frame of mind. Really focus on your task. Before you know it, 50 minutes is up! Walk away for 10 to 20 minutes and reward yourself.
The idea is to chat productively. So stick to ‘business mode.’
Retweet or share some relevant articles your followers would appreciate. Are you anticipating guest blogging for anyone? Place a comment on their most recent blog post or share their content.
Tweet/Share/Pin links to a few of your most recent blog posts.
Check tomorrow’s schedule, queries, your social media calendar, HARO for sources on an upcoming article and check on clients.
So, now let me ask you again: Who made YOU the boss?
Ultimately, YOU did.
With stringent office policies and rigid office structure to keep you in line, you are the boss of you.
Now make it worth it. Be a good boss and a good employee. You can do it!