Is it time to prioritise the right things?
Self-management is the ability to hold yourself accountable, prioritise your goals, and take necessary action. It’s very closely linked with self-discipline, and it’s an essential skill. It allows you to be more productive, work independently and retain focus on what matters.
Self-management is about finding the self-control and mastery needed to take control of one’s work (e.g., to manage one’s time, workflow, and communication) — Camille Preston
It’s also about modelling the right behaviours for your people – in line with your own values and those of your organisation.
What self-management isn’t
It’s not about working very long hours, or pushing yourself beyond your limits. Overworking and pushing yourself too hard will lead to burnout – instead of becoming super-productive, you’ll crash and become less effective in the long run.
An important part of self-management is self-care. You are your most important resource, so keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy is crucial.
That’s why self-acceptance comes before self-management in my four pillars of self-leadership. You have to accept your strengths and weaknesses first. That way, you can manage them effectively without simply pushing yourself blindly to achieve goals that might not complement who you are.
Self-managing means prioritising the right things. This includes self-development and time for reflection alongside positive action to move you towards your goals.
Self-awareness and self-management
Self-management isn’t easy, and it requires a high level of self-awareness. You need to understand why you react to certain things in the way that you do. Then you can assess if your reactions are the most effective response, and implement a plan to reduce your own ineffective responses.
For example, perhaps you find yourself immediately reacting in meetings when somebody disagrees with your point of view. Self-management can help you control your impulse to react, allowing you to respond instead.
Before you can do this, you need to be self-aware of why you react, accept responsibility for your emotions, and manage them in order to remain calm and centred.
Time for you
Think about the last time you reacted to a situation rather than responding:
- The situation or action: what situation or action from another person triggered your reaction?
- The emotion: what emotion were you feeling at the time?
- What other situations have recently triggered this emotion in you?
- Is there a common thread?
- How could you have handled the situation better? What would the ideal response have been?
Make a commitment to recognising when this emotion crops up again, and to avoid reacting immediately. Taking a deep breath in and exhaling (discretely!) can often help you to keep the emotion in check.
The more you practice this, the easier it will become to recognise what trigger you to react and to allow yourself to remove the emotion before responding.
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