Self Management: The Secret to Getting Work Done.

self management

Understanding how impactful self-management can be to your career (and personal) development is incredibly important. Self-management is the ability to self-regulate your emotions, and once you’ve accomplished that then you can focus your energy on making better choices.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-management involves getting to know your strengths and weaknesses, and then learning how to work on those weaknesses.
  • Knowing how to self-manage can even help you leave a great impression when interviewing for jobs. 
  • Learning self-management tips is much easier than you would think. The hard part is staying consistent and being patient with those learnings.

What is self-management?

Self-management as a concept means that you’re able to take responsibility for your own actions and choices. It’s also commonly called self-regulation or self-control and it extends to being able to own your emotions and feelings as well. 

When you can take responsibility for yourself and your emotions, it also means you’re better able to control yourself in stressful situations. And how can this help you become more successful in both life and work? Well, less stress means more room to think through your choices so you can have better and smarter outcomes.  

Jonathan Bricker, an internationally acclaimed scientist who focuses on acceptance therapy, talks about this more in his TedTalk The Secret To Self Control. It’s a quick 15-minute video but it can provide you with some more insight into the concept if you’re interested in learning more. 

What are some examples of self-management skills?

Understanding what self-management looks like in practice is a great way to start learning how you can apply this to your daily life. 

Here are some examples of skills that are part of the idea of self-management:

  • Setting goals – Learning how to set goals is one of the most important things you can develop for self-management. If you can identify and understand exactly what you’re working towards you’ll have a better chance of setting up a proper plan. And with a plan in hand, there’s less room for wasting time and fewer chances of mistakes happening along the way.
  • Working under pressure – One of the most obvious consequences of not knowing how to self-manage can be seen when we’re forced to work under pressure. We don’t know what to deal with first, we get stressed, and our ability to complete our tasks suffer. When you learn how to self-manage however, you develop your ability to stay calm when things get complicated. And with a calm mind, you’re more likely to find the best way to fix the problem at hand.  
  • Learning versatility – This is another important skill you should take time to expand. Being able to know a little about a lot of topics makes you a very desirable employee to many companies. While you don’t need to be an expert in everything, it is useful to know enough to help come up with a solution to a problem and to be able to find the best person to take over the task long term. 
  • Self-motivation – Important in both your work life and your personal life too, being able to motivate yourself is huge. When we rely on someone else, or something else, for the motivation to keep us moving forward we’re putting our future in something we have no control over. If that motivational thing disappears then so does our will to complete the task. Understanding how to find your own motivation will put you light years ahead of those you don’t know how to make that happen. 
  • Accountability – If you’ve ever managed people yourself, then you understand how indispensable accountability is in those that are part of your team. You need to be able to trust that they will do what they said they would without having to follow up or chase them on it. To be accountable you need to take responsibility for your actions, promises, and choices and not point to other people when things go wrong.

How can self-management help you succeed at work?

There are a ton of reasons why you should develop your self-management at work specifically. But the biggest one is that self-management will make sure your colleagues, bosses, and employees see you as a reliable and trustworthy team member. 

For example, learning how to be a team player is a key part of self-management. It’s about understanding that you can’t do it all and so you should be delegating to those around you. Time management is another big thing when it comes to self-management. For this, you can do things like preparing for meetings in advance in order to not waste time when you’re running them. Learning how to time manage your personal work is also useful so you can ensure you don’t waste any precious time. A good idea is to keep a list of what tasks you’ve already completed, which ones you’re working on, and which still need to be addressed.

How can it help you when interviewing for a job?

Self-management skills also have a huge impact when it comes to interviewing for jobs, not just during the job itself. For example, developing your communication skills can help you showcase why you’re the right person for the position in a clear and concise way.

Self-management skills will also help you develop accountability skills such as showing up on time. Another big one is organization skills which in this case can look like coming prepared with your resume and questions to ask at the end. Another example would be to spend some time researching the company, which can showcase self-motivation skills. 

Why is self-management more important now than ever before? 

With the world becoming almost fully remote in the past few years, self-management can look a little different than before. This is because it’s becoming harder and harder to separate where work ends and your personal life begins. And given that boundaries are such a big part of self-management, this is not something to be taken lightly. 

To put it into perspective, where before you could simply close your laptop and get on the bus home to signal your brain the workday was done, today everything is merging into one eternal day of both. 

Self-care (another key aspect of self-management) has become one of the most important things you can do for yourself to try and lessen any negative impact. Try turning off all work notifications after your day is done, for example. Aim to spend less time scrolling on social media, and instead get away from your screen for a few hours a day. It will help you recharge and you’ll perform better! Essentially, if you learn how to manage your body and mind even when bombarded with tech, then you’ll have learned how to self-manage correctly.

5 tips to increase your self-management

So, now you understand why self-management is so important when it comes to your career. The next logical step then is to start learning how to increase that skill.

Here are 5 helpful tips to get you started: 

1. Make a list 

A to-do list can ensure you don’t miss any important tasks no matter how small they are. It also allows your brain to focus on other important things when you remove those tasks floating around in your head. Be sure to arrange them in order of importance as well. This will help you work on your organization and time management skills. 

2. Set up, and keep deadlines

Accountability is big when it comes to self-management. And the best way to put that into practice is to set deadlines and keep them. Having said that, be sure to set realistic timelines both for yourself and for other people. The worst thing you can do is try to appear capable and give a timeline that doesn’t offer you enough time to work. Then you have to let the other person know you couldn’t accomplish what you promised. Not the look most of us are going for.

3. Make a plan

Similar to the idea of making a to-do list, making a plan will help you stay organized with your time. It will allow you to set aside time for coaching, executing, resting, and other tasks as needed without missing anything important. 

4. Take breaks

Forcing yourself to work through 8hs of continuous work will likely not help you complete more things. Taking little breaks in between will help keep you going. There are several methodologies you can use for this like the Pomodoro method or time blocking. Whichever you choose, however, make sure you’re not pulling energy from an empty tank. 

5. No multitasking

While we all want to think differently, the human brain isn’t really set up to be able to do more than one thing at once. And even if you could, your mind has a limit to how much focus it has. So if you force it to split between more than one task something is going to get less attention. Because of that one of the most important things you can do when developing self-management is to not multitask between assignments. Take it one thing at a time.  

Want to start achieving your goals today? Take our free course on Building Your Personal Annual Plan! 

4 tips to stay motivated while practicing self-management

While knowing exactly what to do to start developing self-management is incredibly helpful, sometimes that’s not enough. We can get stuck on the little things, and lose perspective of the end goal. This can then make us lose motivation. 

If this starts happening to you, take a look at these 5 tips to stay motivated while practicing self-management (or any other skill):

Get to know yourself 

This is perhaps one of the best ways to stay motivated. Find a self-assessment quiz like this DISC personality one so you can learn about your strengths and weaknesses. Understanding where your start line is can help make the process less daunting. Once you see that you might have fewer things to work on than you thought it can seem much less intimidating to start and keep going. 

Take your time 

Developing any new skill takes time and practice, so be kind to yourself as you stumble and learn. You will make mistakes and you will probably get things wrong, but if you can see your progress from a position of kindness and understanding then you’ll also be ok with it taking as long as it has to. 

Check on your progress 

There are little things more motivating than seeing how far you’ve come in your journey. And this applies to motivation not only for this topic but for everything else in life as well. With that in mind, make sure you keep track of your progress. This could be anything from keeping a journal to going back to look at how you used to set up projects. Even just checking in with a friend or mentor would be a good option. 

Put yourself first 

None of the above tips will work if you’re not functioning from a base of feeling good physically and mentally. This means that putting yourself first should be non-negotiable when it comes to motivation. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising regularly, and doing things that you find fun and enjoyable.  

Final thoughts

Self-management is part of the emotional intelligence toolkit that all people should have under their sleeve. Learning to develop self-regulation will help advance your life more than you realize. And, it’s also a great way to improve your personal life too. 

While it might seem daunting to be able to develop this ability, it’s much easier than you might think. All it takes is some patience, commitment, and strategic practices. The next thing you know you will be acing that interview or reaching that stressful project deadline. 

Related Readings

Getting People Right (GPR) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional GPR resources below will be useful:

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