KJ sitting at a desk

Nothing feels better than firing your boss. Now you get to make your own schedule. You get to decide what to focus on. You get to make sure you finish your work. 

Oh. But that also means you have to make your own schedule. You have to decide what to focus on. You have to make sure you finish your work. 

Can you even do this? Yes, you can with the right mindset and rhythm in place. Here are the 10 essentials to being the best boss you’ve ever had. 

1.Be the change you want to see in the world 

Gandhi captures it best. If you’re going to take on the challenge of being your own boss, why not enjoy the pleasure of treating yourself like you wish your past bosses had treated you?

Take the time to think through what you’re looking for in a manager, maybe even write a job description. Check off the skills you know you’re good at, and make a list of what you don’t like doing or aren’t sure how to do. These are the points you’re going to want to focus on because they won’t come as naturally to you and you might consciously or subconsciously avoid them.

Be intentional about being an amazing manager for yourself.

2. Create habits 

You need habits that become so autonomic you feel weird if you don’t do them. Habits are the X factor in your behavior. 

Exactly what these habits are will vary from person to person. For me, I realized that if I did not get up earlier, I would not be able to fit in an exercise routine, something I deeply value, into the rest of my packed day. Although the idea of robbing precious sleep from my already short nights made me groan, it was better than trying to squeeze it in later in the day or not doing it at all. 

According to behavioral scientists at The Decision Lab, the mere exposure effect “describes our tendency to develop preferences for things simply because we are familiar with them.” In other words, doing something over and over again, and linking it with something pleasurable or rewarding, will ultimately result in a craving for that very thing. Though up until a few years ago, I never, ever, got up before 6 a.m., now I get up at 5:15 a.m. Not only has it changed my business, but I’ve come to relish this me time. 

3.Work with who you are

Becoming a good self-manager does not mean changing who you are, but rather maximizing your existing strengths and mitigating your known weaknesses. (Girl, we all got ‘em!) Don’t force yourself to do things you could otherwise outsource. 

Here are two situations where outsourcing certain tasks is not only preferable, but better for your business. 

Number one: If you truly hate to do something, you will probably not be very successful at it. You can likely force yourself to get better at something, and you may become proficient, but the negative energy surrounding the activity will loom like a dark cloud, affecting how it feels to run your business. Remember, it should be challenging but fun – not a slog. 

Number two: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Some tasks take too long or too much of your precious energy that needs to be saved and utilized elsewhere. There is no prize for doing everything by yourself. Don’t try to be a hero. Consider the opportunity cost of taking the time to do it yourself and calculate whether paying an admin person makes more sense. 

4. Make time for your various roles, and know how much time to spend on each one 

Being the manager of your own business (while also being the founder, executive, and worker bee) means fulfilling the description of multiple part-time jobs, sometimes in a single day. At any given moment, you may play Secretary, Administrator, Knowledge Worker or Leader. While each of these functions is essential to a smoothly running business, they do not require equal amounts of time. 

Don’t waste your time sweating the small stuff. You can’t be the brilliant visionary that you are for your business if you’re maxed out on perfectly organizing your files. 

Prioritize. 

5. Cultivate focus

You’ll notice in that last paragraph I didn’t say anything about multitasking. That’s because multitasking is a misnomer – an overrated, mythologized work ethic that no one should aspire to achieve (although moms are forced to attempt more often than not).

Sure, it’s good to be versatile, multi-talented, and capable of processing information on various levels. But trying to do too many different things at once, or constantly switching tasks whilst in the middle of them is not actually productive. In fact, there is lots of evidence to suggest that multitasking isn’t a good thing for our brains or our businesses. 

The goal is to completely focus on the task at hand.  When it’s time to pivot and focus on something else, we should be able to mentally leave the last task and completely focus on the new task at hand. 

Find the habits that help you shift gears yet maintain focus. This might be going for a walk, taking a power nap, meditating, having a good cry… whatever. Plan on it. Write it down. Make a calendar event out of it if you have to. It will change your day. Your life. And your business.

6. Find someone to talk to

It’s super badass to be your own boss, but sometimes you need someone to vent to or brainstorm a solution to a problem. It is a solid business investment to budget time (and a little funds, if necessary) to talk it out with another human being on a regular basis. Not just anybody, but someone who can give you what you need to sort yourself out and get you back on track. You might find that in a friend, a mentor, a coach, someone you network with, or someone in a mom group. 

Just make sure you have someone

7. Find a balance between accountability and self-care

You have to be kind to yourself, but also hold yourself accountable. Not much good comes from dwelling on past mistakes or berating yourself if you made an error in judgment or a simple mistake. Look at the situation (like a boss) matter-of-factly, and then calmly assess what happened. 

According to the Stockdale Paradox, success comes from the ability to look at the truth of the facts in front of you — perhaps you missed a deadline, angered a client, or disappointed yourself — but to also have absolute faith that you’ll do whatever it takes to overcome the challenge. Don’t sugarcoat, but don’t lose hope either. 

8. Manifest

Why is it so easy to imagine all that may go wrong, but difficult to intentionally focus on what can go right? I don’t know, but it’s important. 

Gather energy around the excitement of what it will feel like to get what you want. It will help you remember why you’re putting in the work and dealing with all the uncertainty. 

Check out YouTube for manifestation meditations and keep your dreams so close you can touch them. 

9. Cultivate your own growth plan

In his business books, Brian Tracy suggests you invest three percent of your desired income into your professional development. It makes sense. If you were to hire an employee, you would want someone who is valuable and up to date on the latest knowledge, skills and tools to help you optimize every facet of your business. If you were hired, you’d want a boss who would invest in your growth. 

10. Celebrate your wins and relish your freedom 

One of the perks of being self-employed is that at the end of a productive work day or when a goal is met, you can reward your own hard work with self-praise and bonuses! I have a friend who buys herself a sushi dinner every time she gains a new client — a self-appointed bonus . 

Trust yourself enough to enjoy the flexibility of your self-made schedule. Take a nap in the afternoon if you get tired and then get back to work when you feel rested. If you’re in a groove on a particular project and don’t want to stop when your calendar tells you, shift things around. You set the tone, and you can customize your work environment to whatever makes you happier. 

With these 10 changes to your mindset, you’re sure to be the best manager you’ve ever had and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that comes with being your own boss.

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