How to Become Your Own Manager
Episode #3 of the course How to overcome procrastination by Jurgen Wolff
It’s much easier to procrastinate when nobody is monitoring your work or putting pressure on you to get things done. If you know that you’ll be reporting to a manager at the end of the week, you’re much more likely to get to work at the right time. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to become your own manager.
Put Your Manager in Charge
From now on, you’re going to let “The Manager” set your priorities and allocate your time. You may even want to give them a name, although I just call mine The Manager.
The way to become your own manager is to pretend the task is going to be done by someone else. Use the third person when describing the task. For instance, “[Your name] needs to complete the report by the end of this week,” rather than the first-person version, “I need to complete the report by the end of this week.”
This neutral perspective gets you away from any negative emotions you might have about the task.
How to Let the Manager Help You Plan and Work
Usually if you’re working for managers, they give you an assignment. They define the outcome and a deadline. Sometime they also give you step-by-step instructions.
Now you’re going to do that for yourself but in the guise of The Manager. At the start, write down the following elements:
• The desired outcome. For instance, “a 2500-word paper on the Origins of the Civil War,” or “a 500-word lesson on planning,” or “going from weighing 185 pounds to weighing 165 pounds.”
• A deadline.
• The important steps that you need to achieve. Again, use the third-person method by writing all these as directions for [your name]. For instance, I might write, “The 1st step: Jurgen will research the bestselling books in the category of writing non-fiction.”
• A target deadline for every step.
• Any resources required to achieve the steps, and where and how [your name] will get them.
Put the deadline dates into your calendar and set aside time weekly for The Manager to review how things are going. Let them advise you regarding any adjustments that may be required.
Do You Really Need to Write These Things Down?
Yes! If you try to just do them in your head, you won’t give the process the same careful attention. Jotting it all down shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, and doing this will save you much more than that when you do the work.
How to Make This Method Even More Powerful
Conduct The Manager’s planning session in a different location from where you do your work. You don’t have to go far; it could just be a different chair in your work area or a different room. Write down The Manager’s instructions.
Then take them to where you usually do your work, and imagine they’ve been given to you.
Now review them as the one who is going to do these tasks, and get started.
If you do find yourself procrastinating, have a discussion with The Manager and get instructions on how to get going.
Now you have a powerful strategy for planning and carrying out your plan. In the next lesson, you’ll discover how to create an environment that makes it easier to overcome procrastination.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
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