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4 ways to excel at Self-management

Follow these simple steps and never struggle with time-management again!

We covered the first level of leadership, self-leadership, in our previous blog. (Make sure, you read it before getting into this blog - you can access it here.)

The next stage or level in your leadership journey is the mastery of self management. Managers who can effectively manage themselves are destined for greatness – managers who need to be managed by somebody else probably don’t deserve the title. So, what are characteristics of good self-management? There are of course numerous essential qualities, but let’s take a closer look at the most important ones:


Be aware that not everything you do truly matters. Too many little tasks that are blaring at you every single day appear to be urgent but are in fact unimportant and distract you from what is more important. Peter Turla said it nicely: “Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.” You must learn to stay focused on your goals regardless of distractions, dump the unimportant stuff, let go of things that you can’t control and invest that time in the things you can control. Great self-management includes handling tasks when they are important, and not yet urgent. Otherwise, you spend all your time putting out fires that could have been prevented in the first place.

Overcoming procrastination

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that this is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. Procrastinating and avoiding the most undesirable tasks for a length of time means that you are thinking about that frog constantly which wears you out over time. So, remember to tackle important tasks, even if they are not appealing to you. Once you get them out of the way, it will leave more room for other important tasks that you might enjoy more.

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Limiting your to-do-list

Completing tasks within deadlines is vital. These days, portfolios are diverse and as everything in life, there are things you like to do and others not so much. I must have written hundreds (if not thousands) of to-do lists, until I finally realised that the unwanted tasks remained at the bottom for weeks, months (or even years), whilst the tasks I loved doing never even managed to get onto the list as they were completed right away or without a reminder. Writing to-do-lists can be like riding a rocking horse: keeping you busy while not making any progress. A to-do-list is just a tool to get to your outcomes faster, so keep it simple. Don’t spend valuable time making it pretty or constantly re-writing it, or else you risk wasting your time rather than investing it wisely.

Being self-sufficient

Demonstrating autonomy does not only include getting the job done without having to be told, but it also means staying on goals regardless of distractions and focussing on what needs to be done. Self-reliance also comprises of knowing your KPIs and being proactive in offering progress reports, updates on personal progress and plans to improve; utilising existing structure and systems effectively and improving them without prompting; as well as suggesting and adhering to a clear professional development plan.


The next two phases of leadership go beyond the scope of self-leadership and self-management, but let’s have a quick look at what they represent. The third phase involves successful management of yourself and others, which for example includes training others to achieve desired results, using appropriate management style depending on a team member’s confidence and competence, or factual and accurate reporting both up and down the reporting line.

The final level of your leadership journey is the successful leading of others. You are a successful leader once you actively seek to develop other leaders and assist others to get to the next level, create trust within your team, demonstrate strategic thinking, grow yourself so your team can grow, always set an example of excellence, and display other first-rate leadership qualities.

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