As much as you hate to admit it to your legion of loyal minions, you're only human. You suffer from the same frustrations and weaknesses as the most junior member of your staff.
The difference is, the consequences of you succumbing to those weaknesses is exponentially worse for your company. But no matter your weakness, there are simple brain tricks, or mind hacks, you can use to help you overcome them. Here are five common problems and their simple solutions:
Problem: Forgetting Appointments
Solution: Paper Day-Planner
Electronic calendars and apps are great. They let you coordinate schedules with other people in ways we couldn't have imagined five years ago. They generate daily agendas you can use to keep your life running smoothly. But they don't fulfill one important function your paper date book does: improving your memory. An Indiana University study found that, as early as preschool, the physical act of writing something down helps people remember it, because it involves more neural activity than typing or using a mouse. So if you keep missing appointments because you keep forgetting about them, it might be time to go old-school and purchase a paper calendar.
Problem: Imagining The Worst
Solution: Fantasizing The Best
Everybody's been in this situation: Something's just happened (a negotiation that didn't go your way) or something is about to happen (tomorrow's board meeting) that has you locked in a cycle of imagining the worst. As you play the worst-case scenarios over and over in your head, you become distracted and unproductive.
Instead of continuing to think in a cycle of doom, push yourself instead into imagining something really, really exciting—like catching the winning touchdown pass at this year's Superbowl. If that's not your speed, imagine walking on a tropical beach with your partner, or cuddling your new puppy. What you imagine doesn't matter, as long as it's something you'd like better than what you were imagining before you put this hack into play.
Problem: Anger Or Frustration Management
Solution: Tie Your Shoes Left-Handed
Or right-handed, if you're a lefty. A University of New South Wales study found that consistently practicing a skill that's difficult increases our levels of self-control. The idea is, successfully handling that small frustration gives you practice for handling larger, stressful issues that would otherwise send you over the edge. You tie your shoes several times each day, so performing this task with the opposite of your dominant hand should give you just enough practice to develop your aplomb and self-control.
Problem: Overwhelming Stress
Solution: 10-Year Breathing Excercise
Use this two-minute timeout when you're feeling completely overwhelmed. Take a series of 10 breaths, inhaling and exhaling for six seconds each. During the first breath, vividly imagine how whatever you're stressed about will realistically affect your life one year from now. During the second breath, imagine the effects two years later. Then three years for the third breath, and so on until you're imagining the significance of your stressor 10 years in the future. In most cases, you'll find the answer is none at all.
One challenge of being the boss is there's nobody telling you to get that one project you've been putting off done right now. You can keep working on other things until it becomes urgent, which stresses you out, or becomes irrelevant, which can hurt your company. Gamification is a mind hack where you give yourself points for finishing any given task. Cleaning out your files? Ten points per shredded document. Balancing the books? One point per transaction entered into the software. For many minds—especially minds attracted to management and entrepreneurship—those points are enough on their own. If they're not, simply promise yourself a reward for every X number of points you accumulate.
These aren't the only mind hacks you can apply to being a better boss. Tell us about your favorites by sharing in the comments below.
Jason Brick has contributed more than 2,000 blog and magazine articles to local, regional and national publications and speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at www.brickcommajason.com.
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