We’re talking horrible bosses on the Roses this month, and we’ve probably all had them. They can make our working lives a living hell and make us unproductive and unhappy. In fact, the stress of working in tense surroundings can actually make us ill. Many people dream of being their own bosses, but that dream can become a nightmare!
When we’re working for ourselves, especially in any kind of creative venture, we tend to be much harder on ourselves and have much higher expectations of our abilities and time than an employer would. This applies whether you’re a writer, artist, a realtor or sales person cold calling for clients for your product or service, a designer, or any other line of work that means you alone are responsible for your success or failure.Here are seven things that show you’re being a Horrible Boss to yourself:
1) You set yourself daily targets which ten people working full time couldn’t possibly achieve in a week. This is known as setting yourself up for failure.
2) You’re all ready to start work when you remember some urgent non-related task. The kitty litter needs cleaning, the refrigerator needs emptying, emails must be checked and replied to, your calendar needs updating – you get the picture. This is known as procrastinating.
3) You get angry and resentful when social or family obligations come along that mean you can’t get your work targets, and take it out on everyone around you. This is known as transference – you feel under pressure to complete a project and now you convince yourself that if it wasn’t for these demands, you’d have got it all done. Yeah, right.
4) You go on to waste time disliking yourself about being such a horrible person and spoiling the social event for others because of your attitude. This is known as guilt tripping.
5) You beat yourself up because you haven’t achieved as much as you set out to do today. See #4
6) Finally, you become reluctant to actually sit down and start your work – no matter whether it’s writing a book, cold calling for new sales clients, because all the demands on your time and skills have become overwhelming. This is being defeated before you’ve even started.
7) You start looking for comforts, whether food, television, reading blogs, chatting on the phone – you can justify these distractions by saying you needed a break from the computer – even though you haven’t written a word yet. This is fear of failure – or fear of success - writ large.
I’m sure many of us could add to this list. Here are some answers I recommend:
#1). Know what you need to achieve, break it down into smaller goals, and then pencil in each goal into your daybook.
#2) Once you know what you need to do, follow your own guidelines and do it.
#3) This is a tough one – especially for people who work at home. Lay down some strict ground rules about your availability There are some things you can’t and shouldn’t miss out on – a social life is important to your mental health. You just don’t have to attend everything – and you don’t have to stay for hours. Choose what you do and how long, then relax and enjoy.
#4) You’re not a horrible person, you are someone following a dream. If you keep a tight rein on time sinks and on social events, you won’t need feel angry about ‘time wasting’.
#5) If you’ve followed #1 and set reasonable goals, you won’t need to beat yourself up about getting nothing done. Remember, too, that you can’t control everything. Go with the flow.
#6) This is a difficult one. You need to explore the reasons you’re reluctant. Is it connected to the earlier issues, have you not prepared enough, are you afraid of failure? Or success? We all have our own demons that can keep us from achieving. Find out what yours is and work through it..
#7)Sometimes, if you hit a snag, taking time out for a walk or a quiet read with a cup of coffee – or cleaning out the kitty litterJ - can help your subconscious come up with a solution. Just make sure it is a break and not quitting!
I’m writing this from my experience as my own Horrible Boss. Are you a good boss, or do you give yourself a lot of problems?
Glenys O’Connell is working on her demons. Meanwhile, her book, Winters & Somers, is to be re-released on June 4th by Tirgearr Publishing, she’s working on edits on another book and deadline with a third. Stress? Really? You can read the first chapter of Winters & Somers at
Interestingly enough, I found having a deadline helps. On my last book, I procrastinated like crazy for months, dragging it out. Then when the series was contracted, I was asked when I'd finish the final book. I tried to work out a reasonable deadline--which they put in the contract! I was hyperventilating just thinking about it. But, it got my butt in the chair--and I finished a month and a half early. That's my sage advice. LOL Give yourself a deadline. Some great tips here, Glenys!
I agree with Jannine. I respond really well to deadlines, too. I can't stand the thought of missing a deadline, disappointing an editor or critique partner. But if you make a self-imposed deadline, you have to be prepared to back it up, perhaps with a penalty of some kind if you don't finish.
Self-imposed deadlines don't do it for me. I think I'm deadlined-out from my day job. Which could be why I suffer from #7 and 8!
Great advice Glenys. I work well with deadlines too, but with a day job and a toddler, I have to make them flexible, and as you say realistic. So I work with ranges instead. Right now I'm neck deep in edit mode for two contracted and one completed ms, but when I get to go back to writing mode I aim for 500-1000 words a day. I actually don't get too hung up on the word count so long as I've sat down and attempted to write. :-) So far it works. Once nap time disappears, I might be screwed! Lol !
Excellent post and great advice! I do well under deadlines, but not self-imposed deadlines. However, I even look at my critique meetings as deadlines. MUST have something submitted to my crit partners. :) I am guilty of setting goals I can't reach, so thank you for the reminder.
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