Being Your Own Manager

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“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

There are more and more signs that remote work and virtual meetings are becoming the new normal. This is especially true for those of us who are able to work from almost anywhere as long as we have a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. While working remotely may be something that many of us look forward to, given the “freedom” that it brings, it’s a shift that requires being your own manager.

When we’re office-based, we have others around us who can hold us accountable for getting work done. In an office it’s easier to remember that we have to be responsible and deliver what our teammates and managers need from us. Our ability to self-regulate and self-manage might therefore not be as well developed as it could be. The ability to manage yourself is like a muscle. It can only be strengthened through regular practice and opportunities to work independently.

If you find it challenging to self-manage, especially when working remotely, use the following tips to get back on track and feel prepared.

Know yourself

You can only self-manage when you are fully aware of yourself. You need to know your strengths, your weaknesses, your triggers, your preferences, etc. When you understand all this, you manage yourself better and help others to understand you better too. If you don’t know where to start, complete a personality assessment. The outcome of the assessment can guide you and help you understand yourself better. There are many free assessments available online.

Embrace change

A shift from working in an office to working remotely can be very overwhelming. We often get so wrapped up in preparing the logistics that we forget to prepare ourselves psychologically and emotionally. It’s important to take a step back to realise the change and acknowledge that it will take time to adjust to new team dynamics, new tools and new ways of communicating. Take some time to design a brief plan on the best way that you can work through the change. Get the input of those that are also affected (e.g. teammates, loved ones). They could help you plan and embrace the change.

Maintain balance

Know when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. Be deliberate about what you will realistically achieve during your day. Maintaining balance also means that you need to have a degree of flexibility. When you work remotely, your day might be interrupted and you may need to move things around to complete tasks at a different time. Be sure to communicate with your teammates, manager and your loved ones to manage expectations.

Be proactive

Working remotely can sometimes feel like you’ve lost control over your work day. To regain some control, try to be proactive in certain areas. For example, you could initiate and schedule daily or weekly meetings with your manager, instead of waiting for your manager to take action. In this way, you maintain good communication and feel more in control of your week. You can then use “calendar blocking” to allocate chunks of time between meetings to focus on key tasks.

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