How To Improve Self-Management Skills and Use Them at Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 August 2022 | Published 29 September 2021

Updated 5 August 2022

Published 29 September 2021

Self-management skills play an important part in your productivity and performance at work. Improving these skills is a great way to clarify your professional goals and impress potential employers or recruiters with your qualifications. This may include learning how to organise your work, finding a way to motivate yourself or taking initiative at work. In this article, we explain what self-management skills are and list common steps you can take to improve them.

What are self-management skills?

Self-management skills are the ability to plan for and organise your career and take responsibility for your actions by improving your professional qualifications. This type of skill allows you to control your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Typically, having excellent self-management skills means that you're an independent and self-driven professional who can work with little to no supervision because you have the ability to prioritise tasks and set goals for yourself.

It's also an important quality to have when applying for jobs. Positioning yourself as a qualified candidate who knows how to achieve goals for a company can make a lasting impression on a recruiter. This is because employers value self-aware applicants who can align their own goals with the company's for success.

Examples of self-management

Self-management comes in many forms, including:

Organisation

If you're organised, it may signify that you have good management skills. Organisation is part of self-management because it means you understand how to prioritise, plan and execute tasks on your own. It enables you to finish projects on time and control your physical space, energy, time and mental capabilities.

Accountability

Accountability means that you are comfortable taking ownership of your thoughts and actions. With this skill, you're better equipped to evaluate your work and determine the best way to proceed. If you can bear the consequences of your performance or actions and know how to handle them in a respectful and effective way, this may be a sign that you're an accountable professional.

Time management

Time-management skills make prioritising and maintaining focus easier. If you know how to manage your workday effectively, you're more likely to be productive and have higher chances of completing more tasks than someone who doesn't pay much attention to time-management practices. Having excellent time-management skills can not only help you manage your individual work but also positively influence your team's dynamic.

Read more: Time-Management Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips for Improvement

Initiative

Having initiative means you can work independently with little supervision. This is an important quality to have when applying to a new job because you can show a potential employer that you're prepared to take risks and action if the situation requires you to do so. It may also signify that you can use your experience and knowledge to complete tasks on your own. Sometimes, taking the initiative also means that you know how to address an important issue right away or react to resolve a conflict at work.

Related: What Is Aptitude? (and How to Highlight it)

How to improve your self-management skills

Improving your skills can take some time, but knowing what steps to take can make the process easier for you. Here are important practices that can help you improve your self-management competencies:

1. Know your strengths

Understanding your strengths can show you what talents you have and what comes naturally to you. Those strengths can typically help you manage your career path. With this knowledge, you can better plan for strengthening your other personal management skills to balance out those talents. Addressing weaknesses and highlighting your strengths is important because it shows an employer that you're ambitious about achieving your goals.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?'

2. Prioritise your career goals

If you want to work on improving multiple skills at the same time, but working full time doesn't leave you much free time, you may need to prioritise your goals. To do that, analyse which skill would be most useful for your current role. If you find it hard to decide, you could even schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss this. Since they can professionally assess your work responsibilities, they may be able to give you an objective opinion on how to implement your self-improvement plans.

Related: How To Write an Action Plan To Help You Achieve Your Goals

3. Focus on one skill at a time

Choosing just one skill to improve first doesn't mean that you won't get to address the other ones in the future. It's important that you plan for long-term career growth. This may include switching to working on another skill once you're satisfied with your progress with the first one. Single-tasking like this allows you to focus on fewer things at once and notice the little things that you can tweak to improve yourself.

4. Work within deadlines

Setting deadlines for your career goals helps you plan your growth. Assigning deadlines to each task may seem unnecessary at first, especially if you've never done it before, but making a habit out of it can strengthen your organisational skills. Once you're used to completing tasks on time, consider taking this one step further and train yourself to deliver the most important projects a few days before the deadline. This can show your supervisor that you're serious about self-improvement and gives you additional time to implement project changes if someone requires them.

5. Take breaks

If you're currently working on improving your personal management skills, be sure to take a break from time to time. Typically, a self-improvement journey like this is a long-term goal: impossible to accomplish overnight. Looking back at how far you've come can boost your confidence and maintain motivation.

6. Prioritise yourself

Although strengthening your personal management skills can directly impact your employer's success, remember to prioritise your well-being during this time. Consider asking yourself how this new change you're implementing is influencing your mood and emotions. You can also collect and analyse important thoughts and discoveries that you make about yourself.

7. Focus on your emotional intelligence

Since personal management skills are closely related to self-awareness, it's possible to strengthen them by discovering and focusing on your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to notice, understand and manage your emotions. It also helps you control how you react to others' emotions. Making it one of your priorities can help you learn how to communicate effectively and relieve stress.

Using self-management in the workplace

Using your skills in the workplace enables you to stand out and position yourself as a proactive and ambitious employee. Here's how you can do that:

Arrive on time

Punctuality is a sign of professionalism that can help you make a good impression on your supervisor or employer. Arriving to work and important meetings on time is also a sign of respect, as you're showing your coworkers and clients that you value their time.

To be sure you've got enough time for your morning commute to work, consider going to bed earlier the night before and getting at least eight hours of sleep. You might want to account for public transport delays or heavy traffic on your way to work. In the morning, remember to spend some time gathering your thoughts and getting ready for the day.

Related: Key Attributes of Professionalism in the Workplace

Be prepared

If you know a meeting is coming up, spend some time the day before to collect any information you may need to bring and think of questions to ask. You can also review your notes right before the meeting. This helps you to focus on the meeting's goals and be a collaborative contributor.

Use to-do lists

Make sure that you've planned for the day ahead before leaving for work. This way, you can stay on top of your important duties and better organise your time, as well as give yourself the space you need to relax outside of work. At the same time, you can also review the work you've completed that day to track progress and see how much you've done. By doing this, you may find ways to improve your productivity.

Show engagement

To use your self-management skills, consider going the extra mile to do things as well as you can. When you're working on an important project, you can ask yourself if there's something else you could do to make it better. You may also consider offering assistance to your coworkers. Doing so shows that you're passionate about your work and want to take the initiative to make things easier for others.

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