Recognizing Your Inner-Boss: 10 Breeds and How to Survive With Them

They are: the perfectionist, the ‘done is good enough’, the devil on your shoulder, the workhorse, the innovator, the technophile, the guilt-tripper, the workaholic, the scheduler and the friend.

Which inner-boss are you working for?

This post will identify 10 breeds, as well as explaining how you can make the best of them.

1. The Perfectionist

How to spot one:

You’re happy to work-over time or add a few unpaid hours on to a project if it allows you to get it perfect.

While your clients/employer/you appreciate the quality of the work you do, your inner-boss is often a little too happy to hand in work late as long as it’s perfect.

The highs:

You produce great quality work and give your best to every task put in front of you.

The lows:

Some tasks require 20% of effort to get them ‘good enough’, 80% of effort to get them perfect. You might find yourself spending more time on a project than it really needs, and you rarely coast into deadlines with ample time to spare.

Making the best of it:

Try to do work that requires quality over speed, and that doesn’t necessarily need to be done immediately. By focusing on high-pay, high-effort but un-rushed projects, you can squeeze plenty of positives out of your inner-boss.

2. The ‘Done is Good Enough’

How to spot one:

This inner-boss encourages you to be a machine — to churn through jobs as quickly as possible, even if you sacrifice some quality along the way. ‘Done’ is good enough.

The opposite of the perfectionist, your inner boss encourages you to consider the minimum amount of work required to get paid and move on to the next job in line.

It’s most often seen when you’re not making as much money as you’d like and need to churn through a lot of work to make ends meet, or when you’ve fallen behind and are desperately trying to catch up.

The highs:

Completing work quickly is something your clients will love (if you have them). This approach can also help you get on top of things when you’ve fallen behind.

The lows:

You’ll make mistakes here and there, and you may need to return to a job you considered ‘done’ once you find out that it’s not as unfinished as you thought.

While clients might be impressed with the speed of your work, they might also have hoped for a higher level of quality.

Making the best of it:

There’s a huge market out there for self-employed people who work fast. When somebody needs something done urgently, works well-enough and delivered quickly is much more desirable than works perfectly and delivered slow.

Some clients will pay top dollar to have work turned over rapidly, so you can incorporate your inner-boss into the fabric of your business.

3. The Devil On Your Shoulder

How to spot one:

In an office job, this kind of boss would be a dream: he/she loves to relax, take breaks, have fun and work as little as possible.

For a self-employed person, though, this kind of boss can be a big obstacle. It will tempt you away from work, on to YouTube, or to take breaks, even when you don’t really need them.

The highs:

Overwork is not a problem for you. You aren’t neglecting other areas of your life in favor of work.

The lows:

This inner-boss can stress you out and cause you to fall behind with work. Truth is, you need to earn a certain amount of money to stay solvent, and that’s tricky when you spend the bulk of your days playing guitar/Xbox or hanging out with your kids.

You may struggle to reconcile a love of life and leisure with the need to make ends meet, and it could impact on your income.

Making the best of it:

Start keeping solid track of time. While this kind of inner-boss probably won’t let you work in four-hour stretches, set yourself a quota of work-hours for the day.

This will allow you to work irregular hours as long as you do the needed amount of work eventually.

4. The Workhorse

How to spot one:

This inner-boss treats you like a workhorse. It will load you up with more work than you think you can handle. Sometimes you will surprise yourself and get it done — other times you will fall way behind.

You might also feel like you’re never quite on top of things. Your inner-boss always has something waiting for you.

The highs:

You test assumptions about your capabilities and often surpass them. You often churn through more work (and earn more money) than others around you.

The lows:

Sometimes your inner-boss will go too far, encourage you to commit to things you can’t possibly fit in, promise deadlines you can’t keep, and under-estimate the time and effort required to complete a project.

This can lead to stress, late nights, overwhelm and overwork.

Making the best of it:

Once you’ve reached a level of work you feel comfortable with (not too much, not too little), make it your policy to swap-out new projects, rather than add them on.

You’re likely going to think much harder about taking on more work when you know it means you have to drop something else. This will also encourage you not to take on a new project unless it’s significantly better than a project you’ve already taken on.

5. The Innovator

How to spot one:

The Innovator is passionate about refining your workday system. It looks for things to eliminate, automate, systems to polish and refine, new rules to follow, new tools to use, and new ways to do things.

The innovator is constantly searching for the perfect workday.

The highs:

Innovation done well can help you do more work in less hours and become more effective.

The lows:

Some Innovators never quite get there, spending hours each week reading about productivity and work-systems without making any significant changes.

Blaming flaws in your productivity system can prevent you from looking at the deeper issues affecting your approach to work.

Making the best of it:

Spend an hour each week with a paper and pen, examining your work, your career’s future direction, what works and what doesn’t.

Innovation in your personal work style will only be focused and effective when considered in light of your larger plans and deeper considerations.

6. The Technophile

How to spot one:

Technology is the answer. This inner-boss encourages you to spend your work days logging into different accounts and tapping into web services as you go.

Your office exists mostly (if not entirely) on your computer and you firmly believe that technology-related purchases will pay for themselves in no time.

The highs:

Technophiles encourage you to be highly mobile and to experiment with new technologies. By being willing to experiment with your work-tools, you can make some truly remarkable and useful discoveries.

The lows:

Cutting-edge technology won’t count for much if it’s paired with an outdated workstyle. In some cases, web apps and Firefox extensions can make simple tasks more complicated than they need to be.

Making the best of it:

Actually try remote working — at least for a few days. With a plugged-in workstyle, you’re in the perfect position to do so. Get out of the house sometimes!

7. The Guilt-Tripper

How to spot one:

You should be working right now, right?

If a part of you agreed with that question, but you’re technically not supposed to be working now, you’re probably wrestling with an inner-boss who uses guilt to her/his advantage.

You’ll find yourself thinking about unfinished tasks when you’ve finished work for the day, and feeling like you should be at work, even when you shouldn’t.

This inner-boss likes to make you feel kinda bad about enjoying life.

The highs:

You’ll find it harder to procrastinate and waste time. If your inner-boss can make you feel guilty about taking breaks when you’re fully entitled to them, it will make you feel five-times more guilty when you’re actually supposed to be working.

The lows:

Plenty. Constantly feeling like you are not doing well enough with work and that you’re wasting time whenever you do something enjoyable will make it more difficult to enjoy yourself when you have a right to do so. This can cause stress in the long-term.

Making the best of it:

You need a schedule to create non-negotiable protection lines around work and life. You need time when you are simply not allowed to work, just as you need time when you are simply not allowed to play.

The longer you go without giving in to the urge to work, the less likely you are to think about work in times of rest and leisure. You can train yourself to think differently.

8. The Workaholic

How to spot one:

Your love of work occasionally takes on the dimensions of an obsession. You will sometimes choose to work in your free time over doing something you enjoy.

You find it difficult to define what is ‘work’ and what is ‘not work’. You know you work too much and don’t always mind.

The highs:

You love your job — that’s a great thing. You get a lot done and will probably be earning good money (either now or in the future).

The lows:

One part of your life is flowering, but could you say the same across the board? A workaholic inner-boss is not incompatible with happiness, but make sure you don’t neglect other areas of your life.

Making the best of it:

Set a weekly limit for hours you’ll work each week. For each hour you go over on one day, subtract an hour from another day.

The system will act as a natural barrier against overwork, unless you ignore it. (Most systems don’t work if you ignore them!). Change starts with your inner-boss.

9. The Scheduler

How to spot one:

If you’re reading this during your 4pm to 4:30pm blog-reading slot, your inner-boss may well be a scheduler. A schedule is your safety net, and you find it difficult to be productive without one.

The highs:

You know what you should be doing at any given time, and you’re forced to think about how long a given task should take, and stick within that time-frame.

The lows:

Un-forseen events can throw-out your schedule or make it redundant. In those situations, schedulers are not always sure what to do. Rigid schedules are also easy to throw out of whack.

Making the best of it:

Try making your schedule more dynamic. You could create a new schedule for each week, or even a new schedule each day, for that day.

With such a system in place, you’ll have the safety of a schedule without being thrown by changes to your routine.

10. The Friend

How to spot one:

Most of us have at least a little of this inner-boss in us. He/she knows when to work and when to stop, and when other things are more important.

It wants you to succeed, but not at the expense of other aspects of your life. It constantly strives for balance — and while imperfect, it does a lot of good.

The highs:

As long as your inner-boss is, or is influenced by, this ‘Friend’ model, you’ll come out on top.

The lows:

None come to mind. While you’d expect your inner-boss to be additionally influenced by one or more of the other nine models, this approach will keep you working happy.

Making the best of it:

Make sure to bring what you learn from this aspect of your inner-boss to other aspects that don’t always work so well.

A scheduler + guilt-tripper will always have troubles, while a scheduler + friend could be quite effective.

About Skellie

Massive nerd who just happens to enjoy anything related to blogging, creativity, and online marketing.

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