Have you ever been put in charge of an important project, or had to navigate a stressful personal situation while staying on top of your work responsibilities? Chances are you had to practice self-management: The art of using your own know-how and emotional intelligence to be your own boss and get things done on time.Although strong self-management skills are valuable both inside and outside of work, they’re especially important if you work from home, set your own hours, or otherwise lack the structure of a traditional work environment.Let’s take a look at four components of self-management, and how you can improve your self-management skills with the right tools and a little self-awareness.
What Is Self-Management?
Self-management refers to how well you’re able to balance your own thoughts, feelings, and impulses in the service of getting things done. For example, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed at work or are struggling to stay focused, good self-management skills can help you understand the root cause and make constructive changes.Here’s how psychologists define self-management and related concepts:
- Self-control: Self-control is the ability to inhibit unwanted impulses, such as being able to turn off the TV when you should be working.
- Self-regulation: Self-regulation is the ability to understand and regulate your impulses. For example, if you only watch TV when you’re stressed, you can regulate the impulse by addressing the root cause of your stress.
- Self-awareness: Self-awareness is the ability to perceive your emotions and abilities accurately, including the effect they have on others.
- Self-management: Self-management is a holistic approach to self-regulation that includes stress management, time management, and other soft skills like adaptability and self-motivation.
Self-management isn’t a workplace philosophy or a corporate job description. You can practice self-management whether you work independently, with a direct supervisor, or with multiple team members. By developing effective self-management skills, you’ll be better able to channel your thoughts and impulses in a productive way.
4 Components of Effective Self-Management
Since everyone’s goals and work habits are different, there’s no right or wrong way to practice self-management. Still, these four components are a good place to start.
1. Organizational Skills
People with strong self-management skills have a good organizational system. They know what needs to get done, where to find important documents, and who to call if they need help. This includes having a clean and comfortable workspace.If your desktop is always cluttered, or you keep misplacing your to-do list, start by focusing on this area of self-management first.
2. Time Management
Good time management skills go hand-in-hand with self-management. As you learn to optimize your time at work, you’ll be better able to prioritize important tasks, cut down on opportunities for procrastination, and spend less time on routine daily tasks.Good self-managers are always aware of their deadlines, and ensure that they leave themselves enough time to complete important tasks.
3. Physical and Mental Well-Being
Self-management involves being aware of your physical health and the impact it has on your mental health and stress levels throughout the workday. How much sleep do you need each night to stay focused at work? Does drinking coffee make you feel stressed or anxious? Are you getting enough exercise?Being able to recognize signs of burnout is an important skill, and you can avoid it by practicing self-care and maintaining a good work-life balance.
4. Career Development
Good self-managers are always looking forward, are clear on their personal goals, and are aware of their limitations. They take personal responsibility for their mistakes and seek out learning experiences and opportunities for career advancement.If you’re struggling with decision-making or self-motivation at work, zoom out to look at the big picture. It’s not about how many hours you put in, but about how you feel about your job and how it aligns with your overall professional goals.
Why Self-Management Matters
If you like your boss, and work well as part of a team, do you still need to develop your self-management skills in the workplace? Here’s why it’s still a good idea.
1. Know Your Limits
People with strong self-management skills know their limits and know when to ask for help. For example, if you struggle to pay attention in meetings, you can try learning a new note-taking strategy or delegate the job to an automated note-taking tool like Anchor AI, which can take notes and identify action items for you.
2. Avoid Burnout
Employees who monitor their stress levels, take breaks, and have good organizational systems are less likely to feel overwhelmed by their work. Simply being aware of your physical and mental health needs is the biggest productivity hack of all.
3. Make Better Decisions
Taking time for goal setting and personal reflection can help you make better decisions about your work life and your career. Instead of making decisions on impulse, you can use your emotional intelligence to decide what’s really in your best interest.
How to Develop Self-Management Skills
Don’t wait until you encounter a stressful situation to focus on self-management. You can develop self-management in your daily life by following these five steps.
1. Set Goals
First, set goals: What is it that drives you to do the work that you do? Do you have the skills that you need to achieve these goals, or do you need additional training? When your personal goals are aligned with your professional objectives, you’ll be in a better position to get a promotion, ask for a raise, or otherwise advance your career.Ensure that your goals are clear, specific, and realistic, and communicate them to your colleagues so they can help you achieve them.
2. Improve Your Health
Next, examine the link between your physical well-being and your ability to get things done. Are you tired, stressed, or irritable when you show up to work?Create a productive morning routine that works for you, and schedule in time for rest and relaxation between projects. If the problem is your work environment, consider investing in a standing desk or a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
3. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Even when things are going well, you’re bound to feel challenging emotions at work once in a while. The important thing is learning how to acknowledge your emotions without letting them control you. Self-regulating individuals are able to keep their emotions in check, and are less likely to clash with co-workers.If self-regulation doesn’t come easily to you, consider taking a stress management workshop or participating in a mindfulness program.
4. Create Effective Systems
Effective self-management looks effortless because you’ll spend less time and energy problem-solving and more time getting things done. For example, you can use an app or action item tracker to keep your to-do list organized and all in one place.Start by choosing an organizational system that works for you, such as a Kanban board or another project management methodology. Then, apply time management skills such as the Pomodoro Method to work through the items on your to-do list one-by-one.
5. Use the Right Tools
Finally, don’t overlook the benefits of remote collaboration tools and task management software. These cloud-based tools make it easy to stay on top of things by scheduling meetings, automating tasks, and sending out reminders of upcoming deadlines.Knowing when to delegate tasks to a computer is an important part of self-management. Technology like AI note-taking tools can help by doing some of the work for you so you don’t have to multitask. You can use Anchor AI to get more out of meetings by automatically generating meeting minutes and identifying action items.
Boost Your Productivity With Anchor AI
Self-management is the practice of setting goals, monitoring your emotions, and taking care of your mental health so as to further your work and personal goals. It requires a combination of stress management, time management, and interpersonal skills.But self-management doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. You can use tools like Anchor AI to assist you in running meetings and staying on top of your to-do list.Our automated note-taking tool can take notes during virtual meetings so you don’t have to. Plus, you can Ask Anchor to transcribe your meeting, generate a meeting summary, or automatically assign actionable items to individual team members — helping you stay more productive before, during, and after meetings.Sign up today to try out the AI-powered task manager you’ve been looking for!