Definition of self-management
By definition, self-management is about leading, organizing and motivating yourself in your daily life and work. Through self-management, then, you focus on your personal as well as your professional development. In contrast to management by another person (e.g. a manager), you guide yourself through various self-management methods and thus act on your own responsibility, self-determination and independence. The same principle can be applied accordingly to entire teams that manage themselves without formal leadership.
The goals of self-management
You apply self-management when you:
- achieve your goals faster,
- achieve better results,
- reduce your stress in the process, and
- strengthen your work-life balance.
The following sub-goals, which you or your team focus on using various self-management methods, pay off on these four main goals:
- Collect tasks and keep track of them
- Prioritize work
- Time management, planning work wisely and structuring the day
- Increase productivity and work more efficiently
- Motivation to get started and stick to it
- Empowerment and strengthening of self-confidence
- focus on the important goals
- Recognize and use one's own abilities appropriately
- delegate tasks to a person who is better suited for them
- consider own needs and values
- also develop medium and long-term goals and visions
- find meaning and why behind goals
- measure progress and success
- learn from experience and adapt measures
- find out which methods fit best to own personality or team
- develop strategies to solve problems and overcome challenges
What self-management methods are there?
The following self-management methods pay off on the aforementioned goals. Since they focus on different aspects, it is worth combining several for your own self-management:
- ALPEN method
- Pomodoro method
- Eisenhower matrix
- ABC analysis
- Pareto principle
- SMART method
- AMORE Method
- Journaling with focus questions
In this self-management method, each letter represents an important step. The individual steps provide the structure for working through tasks:
- Write down tasks
- Estimate length or duration
- Plan buffer time
- Prioritize decisions
- Check what has been achieved
Tasks that have not been completed are carried over to the next workday.
This self-management technique is all about staying motivated and focused by completing tasks in short intervals (= pomodori). So that the work or the workday doesn't seem like one big and unconquerable mountain, you work in blocks of 25 minutes each (set a timer!) and take a 5 minute break after each block. After 4 blocks or pomodori you then take a break of 30 minutes.
You can complement the Pomodoro technique with other self-management methods that will help you prioritize tasks.
This self-management method uses the Eisenhower matrix, which consists of four quadrants:
- On the bottom left, you put in tasks that are neither urgent nor urgent. You simply ignore these to-dos (they form your not-to-do list).
- On the top left, you write down tasks that are urgent but not important and that you can delegate.
- On the top right you put the urgent and important tasks. They should be done immediately.
- On the bottom right you add tasks that are not urgent but important. You schedule such to-dos according to their deadlines.
The goal of the Eisenhower method is to prioritize work and not to do something just because it is easy or takes little time.
In the ABC method, tasks are sorted by importance - similar to the Eisenhower method: A tasks are important and should be done immediately, B tasks are less important or important but not urgent and can be done later or delegated. C tasks are unimportant and are delegated (if urgent) or discarded (if not urgent).
Pareto is less a method than a principle: also known as the 80-20 rule, it states that we can achieve 80 percent of the desired result with only 20 percent time commitment. This rule shows us that we can quickly achieve a good result if we
- identify and complete the really relevant tasks
- limit the time we spend on our work, e.g. by timeboxing, i.e. setting fixed time windows
- and lowering our perfectionism ("Better Done Than Perfect").
To achieve better self-management, it is important to formulate your goals in a meaningful way - otherwise it will be difficult to actually achieve them. So when determining your goals, you can use the letters of SMART to guide you. Your goals should be:
- Specific (rather than vague and unspecific),
- measurable (qualitative and quantitative),
- attractive (with an incentive for you),
- realistic (feasible in terms of time and resources)
- and scheduled (i.e., planned to be binding in time).
This self-management method serves as an alternative to SMART, but focuses on slightly different aspects for meaningful goal setting. According to this method, your goals should be ambitious, motivating, organized, realistic and real.
Journaling with focus questions
Another popular and very easy to use method for self-management is daily journaling, i.e. answering focus questions in writing. Journaling can be integrated into your morning routine, for example, with questions such as:
- What is my most important task today?
- What one thing can I do today to get closer to my goal?
Journaling is also useful for recording progress, experiences, and learnings at the end of the workday. For example, a notebook is sufficient or you can get a special success journal with predefined questions for reflection.
For whom are self-management methods worthwhile?
Self-management methods are worthwhile for individuals or teams who:
- advance their professional development,
- work more focused and efficiently (and procrastinate less),
- achieve better results and reach goals faster
- develop personally,
- manage their life and work independently and self-determined,
- work independently (without a manager),
- reduce their stress level and establish a better work-life-balance
- and find meaning in their work (again).