How to self-manage

Taking responsibility for yourself and forward planning are important skills that can benefit any business
by Bethan Rees

Complete our Self-management Professional Refresher to earn 1.25 hours CPD

Self-management, according to our Professional Refresher module on the topic, is “like being your own boss – not by starting your own business but, rather, by taking responsibility for your own actions, holding yourself to account, doing your best, and always striving to achieve the best possible outcomes”.

Self-management has many benefits, outlined in the module. These include taking pride in tasks and being recognised as conscientious, achieving the best results in all tasks, and being a reliable and organised employee.

Holding yourself more accountable has obvious benefits for business, as an article by Brent Gleeson for Forbes explores. He quotes various people in business, including Fabrizio Moreira, CEO of The Moreira Organization, a music talent management business. Moreira believes that accountability breeds excellence. “The best way to encourage positive business outcomes and discourage unfavourable ones is to reward excellence, while correcting performance that doesn't live up to your expectations. I've found that in operating in this manner, decision-makers are able to achieve the greatest results.”

Tools to self-manage

The roots of self-management are in preparation, planning, and committing to lifelong learning. There are some tools to help prioritise and plan efficiently in business, which can be helpful for everyone.

Gamelearn, a corporate training platform, recommends several tools for self-management in a blog on its site, including self-analysis of the areas you may be unproductive in; use of electronic productivity tools to help keep track of daily tasks and optimise time, such as Evernote or Google Keep; splitting tasks into manageable steps, and avoiding multitasking.

Others may find using a traditional ‘to-do’ list just as useful. An article by media start-up Greatist explains further. “Even the most basic outline of must-do tasks can help us tackle our most important goals. Some research suggests writing information by hand helps us remember it better, but if you last picked up a pen in 1995, fear not: there’s a huge range of digital apps that help create personal to-do lists.”

SMART self-management

To help clarify what to put on your list, you should put together an effective plan. Our Professional Refresher module says: “Be clear about what it is that you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by, while, at the same time, defining what success looks like to you.” It recommends using SMART objectives to help add structure and clarity to a plan.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific – Objectives should be clear.
  • Measurable – Targets should be free of subjectivity.
  • Achievable – Objectives must be realistic.
  • Relevant – Your goal should be a necessity, either for others or yourself.
  • Timely – Work to a deadline. This helps to identify priorities and prevent a project from dragging on for too long.

Using your initiative is also a vital part of self-management. As the module explains, “find out what you need to know, see and take advantage of opportunities that pass others by and keep going when times get tough”. Businesses want people to “think on their feet and take the right action without being told to do so”.

See the goal so you can reach it The module highlights the importance of envisioning the outcome for a task or project before planning. “Without a vision for what the end of the plan looks like, there is likely to be a lack of focus or direction. Having goals will give you a benchmark to measure whether you are succeeding against what you want to achieve. While they need to be realistic, any goals that you set should also motivate and excite you.” 

Self-management is a far-reaching concept and extends to much more than just the above. Other valuable areas to improve are time management – making sure you’re effectively managing your workload ­–  and having a suitable workspace to facilitate such time management. This could include options of flexible working, such as working from home. Being good at self-management can also be defined in some respect as knowing how to hit a work-life balance, which is crucial to our mental health. Elsewhere in the module, you will learn that managing change in a business setting is important – being a role model to guide through change and inspiring others are characteristics of good self-management.

What are your top tips for self-management? Leave your comments below.

Seen a blog, news story or discussion online that you think might interest CISI members? Email
Published: 18 Oct 2019
  • Career Development
  • Soft Skills
  • The Review
  • self-management
  • workload
  • work-life balance
  • stress
  • professional refresher
  • flexible working

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