Struggling to stay on task? You should hire your own boss

Are you struggling to stay on task? Now that many of us have switched to working remotely in the comfort of our own homes (and sweats), we find ourselves in charge of our own self-regulation, motivation, and control—and for some, it’s proving to be quite the challenge.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to consider trying out this solution that’s been steadily gaining popularity in China: hiring your own “boss.”

That’s right, people in China have started hiring online “supervisors” that check on them to ensure that their productivity levels stay up as they work or study from home. The result? Positive effects for both the person being checked on and for the supervisors themselves.

In March 2018, after struggling with wrestling with his own tendency to slip into procrastination or distract himself from completing the tasks on his to-do list, a freshman student at Wenzhou University Yu Benqin formed his first team of supervisors and opened an online store on Taobao. The service he offered? To push people to get things done.

When Yu first launched his supervisor service at the age of 21, he gathered a dozen or so schoolmates to help people stay productive and keep up their momentum. Once lockdowns were in place and more people were forced to work from home, the demand for supervisors increased exponentially.

After just two years, Yu’s company it started earning a monthly turnover of more than 100,000 yuan ($15,460). He expanded from operating his first supervisor service store on Taobao to opening two more with their own staff.

Yu offers two options for clients: ordinary and intensive. For both levels of service, the client writes out their plan for the next day and sends it to their supervisor. Ordinary service consists of the client self-reporting their progress three times a day to their supervisor, while intensive service clients receive reminders from their supervisors before and after each task, their results are real-time check-ins through photos or videos, and they have a conversation with their supervisor every night.

Yu himself subscribed to the intensive service and reported that with the support of his supervisor, his self-discipline improved so much that he eventually didn’t need the service any longer.

So, the next time you’re feeling unmotivated, perhaps consider shopping around for your own online boss or consider coming up with a deal between yourself and a friend or roommate to check up on each other and hold each other accountable.

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