Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 4, Issue 47;   November 24, 2004: Are You Micromanaging Yourself?

Are You Micromanaging Yourself?

by

Feeling distrusted and undervalued, we often attribute the problem to the behavior of others — to the micromanager who might be mistreating us. We tend not to examine our own contributions to the difficulty. Are you micromanaging yourself?

Judging by the almost-universal understanding of the term micromanager, many of us have experienced micromanagement. It's pretty easy to detect micromanaging when someone else is doing it, but it's difficult to see it when we're doing it ourselves. Micromanagers are everywhere — even inside us.

One reason it's so hard to see our own micromanaging behavior is our reluctance to face the possibility that we're hurting other people. That's why our own behavior can be easier to see if we look at how we micromanage ourselves.

A sleeping dog

Tobias, 11 years old, sleeping on the floor. No guilt detectable here. Photo by Teles, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Here are some warning signs that your inner micromanager might need some retraining:

  • You feel guilty about sleeping late, even on your days off, and even if you're exhausted.
  • Whenever you get a parking ticket, you feel really horrible — out of all proportion to the offense.
  • You don't have a "free" minute. Every bit of time is accounted for. It's been months since you've had the experience of just hanging out, in the way you did so easily in your teens.
  • You berate yourself if you do something just well enough. You could have done better.
  • You rarely celebrate achievements or acknowledge successes, because you're afraid that if you do, you might get too comfortable or ease off.
  • When you put anything at all on your To-Do list, you have a clear idea of the right way to do it. You rarely let yourself try new or more interesting approaches.
  • Micromanagement
    is difficult to detect
    when we're doing
    it ourselves
    When you travel somewhere, even for a routine errand, you always take the "best" route — never trying a different, more scenic, or more adventurous one.
  • You constantly ask yourself when you'll complete some particular task. When you do complete it, or if it goes on hold for reasons beyond your control, you start nagging yourself about some other task.
  • You question yourself about decisions you can't undo.
  • You blame yourself if a decision you made turns out badly, even if you did your best with the information you had at the time.
  • You compare yourself to others, especially when the comparison is unfavorable to you. You give too little weight — or don't even acknowledge — aspects of those comparisons that are favorable to you.
  • You don't trust yourself with difficult decisions. You give more weight to the advice of others, even when they couldn't possibly know any more than you do.
  • You keep a close eye on all your spending, requiring that every penny be accounted for and every expenditure be justified.

If any of these rang bells, and you want some training for your inner micromanager, remember that there's no best way to do it. Any way that works is a good way. On your next day off, you can start by sleeping late. Go to top Top  Next issue: Decisions, Decisions: II  Next Issue

For a survey of tactics for managing pressure, take a look at the series that begins with "Managing Pressure: Communications and Expectations," Point Lookout for December 13, 2006.

For more about micromanagement, see "When Your Boss Is a Micromanager," Point Lookout for December 5, 2001; "There Are No Micromanagers," Point Lookout for January 7, 2004; "How to Tell If You Work for a Nanomanager," Point Lookout for March 7, 2007; "Reverse Micromanagement," Point Lookout for July 18, 2007; and "Lateral Micromanagement," Point Lookout for September 10, 2008.

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