Self management abilities can be some of the most important skills to develop if you want to achieve your career goals

Have you ever found yourself wondering why your career advancement seems slower than you planned? Do you sometimes struggle to stay on task, prioritize goals, or manage stress? If so, then you're definitely not alone. Many workers face similar challenges that can hold them back from reaching their full potential. Fortunately, you can learn to overcome these obstacles by improving your self management skills.

In this post, we'll explain the concept of self management, look at why self management skills are so vital for career success, and offer some helpful tips that you can use to improve your ability to manage yourself in a more effective way.

What is self management?

Perhaps the best self management definition is also the simplest. At its core, self management can be defined as the ability to control your own thoughts, emotions, and actions. People who possess this ability have a range of skills that enable them to remain focused on set priorities, maintain productivity, be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, and demonstrate consistent competence in all that they do. Development of those skills can help you to:

  • Remain focused on your role within any organization

  • Become a more reliable force within your company

  • Improve interpersonal skills by exercising superior emotional intelligence

  • Demonstrate consistent trustworthiness and character

  • Be more empathetic toward others

  • Better manage time and increase productivity

What are self management skills?

Self management skills include all those abilities that you use to regulate your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Together, they can help you to exercise greater control over your feelings, thought processes, and actions. Some common self management skills include:

Time management

Time management is one of the most difficult skills for many people to learn, but also one of the most important abilities needed for effective self management. This skill enables you to control the use of your time more efficiently, which in turn helps you to accomplish tasks, meet deadlines, and avoid the need for outside assistance. People with great time management skills avoid procrastination and often serve as inspirations for those around them.

The ability to prioritize

Proper prioritization of tasks can help you to better manage projects. This ability can help you to set short and long-term goals, communicate those goals to others as needed, and track your progress toward each objective. Someone with superior prioritization skills knows how to align daily goals with longer-term objectives in a way that ensures steady progress, greater productivity, and increased effectiveness in their job role.


Adaptability is a key skill for effective self management, since it enables you to easily pivot to meet new challenges or unexpected changes. To be adaptable, you need to have a mindset that accepts change when it comes, well-developed critical thinking skills for effective problem-solving, and a willingness to embrace new ideas and opportunities.

Stress management

Stress management is essential for self management, since every job comes with some degree of pressure. To manage stress well, you need to be able to maintain control over negative emotions to ensure that they don't interfere with your performance or the performance of your peers. This conscious awareness of your own feelings can help you to deal with stress in a more positive way, assist you in maintaining a more upbeat attitude and outlook, and ensure that you're able to focus on the task at hand during even the most stressful of times.


Self-awareness is defined as the ability to understand who you are as a person. A truly self-aware individual recognizes their own personality traits, emotional tendencies, and thought processes. They have a good understanding of their own values, their core motivations, and their primary belief systems. Self-awareness is critical for enabling you to also understand your place in the world, and how others might perceive you.


A person who excels at self management is often recognized as more trustworthy than people who struggle to manage their own thoughts and actions. Good self-managers are reliable and consistent. Their peers and supervisors know that they can be relied on to follow through on their commitments and keep their word.

Empathy and conscientiousness

Empathy is another vital skill for self management, since it helps you to control how you interact with others. When you can put yourself in another's place and imagine how your words and actions might affect them, it can inform your ability to be more conscientious about what you say and do. This mindfulness of others' feelings and needs can help you to inspire trust and improve your ability to maintain open lines of communication with those around you.

Why is self management so important?

Self management is a vitally important skill set that can help you to become a more effective employee, manager, or leader. Because it encompasses so many skills needed for career success, developing your ability to manage yourself can be one of the most efficient ways to advance your career. The fact is that employers are always looking for people who are strong self-managers, because they know that they can rely on those employees to commit to goals, manage their own time and efforts, and achieve results on a consistent basis.

Self management is also the key to employee empowerment and an important factor in encouraging resourcefulness and innovation in the workplace. Companies that employ workers with strong self management abilities can rely on those employees to be self-motivated, productive, and creative. Management and leadership can spend more time focused on the big picture, comfortable in the knowledge that their team members are capable of managing their roles without constant supervision.

15 self management strategies you can use to improve these critical skills

Given the important role that self management can play in determining your job success, It only makes sense to develop these skills as much as possible. In fact, becoming a better self-manager can be one of the easiest ways to position yourself for career advancement, since the skills you'll be developing are all abilities that employers seek when they're hiring new candidates or promoting existing workers.

The good news is that there are strategies and tips that can help you to develop the skills you'll need to manage yourself more effectively. Below are some of the best ways that you can work to hone those abilities and become the self-manager that you need to be to achieve your career aspirations.

1.      Create a journal

To be truly self-managed, you need to know yourself. You have to get in touch with your emotions, thoughts, motivations, aspirations, and values. One of the best ways to do this is to get in the habit of writing in a journal each day. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to write like Shakespeare, but it does mean that you should try to record your thoughts and actions. Doing this will help you to process your daily experiences and help you to gain insights that you can use to better control your thought processes and behaviors.

2.      Make lists of priorities and goals

The ability to create goals and establish priorities is an important element of managing yourself, so be sure to focus on that skill too. You should commit to making a list of all your short and long-term objectives and then work to decide which ones take priority over the others. To gain even more clarity, add your top priorities to a calendar to ensure that you can visualize deadlines and create action plans to achieve those goals.

3.      Get organized

It's almost impossible to manage your behaviors if you're lacking in organizational skills. To improve your self management, you'll need to focus on being organized - in your workspace, routine, and planning efforts. Begin by taking steps to get your office and workspace tidied up and organize files and other important resources so that you can readily access what you need. Organize your work schedule by creating calendars and to-do lists that highlight your projects and tasks according to priority.

4.      Set aside time to think

It's easy to get so engrossed in your routine that you never take time to reflect on lessons learned. One of the keys to self-awareness - a critical component of self management - is self-reflection. Make time to think about where you are in your career, what you need to do to get to the next level of success, and how you can achieve those goals. Learn to recognize areas of weakness and focus on how you can leverage your strengths to overcome obstacles.

5.      Practice emotional regulation

Self management and emotional intelligence go hand in hand, so commit to developing your ability to regulate your emotions while being sensitive to others' feelings. Learn to be a more active and reflective listener by focusing on the meaning of the messages you're hearing. When you speak to others, consider the impact of your words before you utter them. Work to stay in touch with your own emotions, so that you can better control your reactions and interact with others in a calmer and more rational way.

6.      Be more physically active

Physical activity is not only important for overall health, but can increase your energy levels, focus the mind, and help you to maintain morale. Find time each day to take a brisk walk, go for a run, or perform some other physical activity. You can even get in the habit of pacing in the office while you're on the phone, or walking around the building the next time you're consulting with a colleague.

7.      Don't be afraid to be an agent for change

As you develop your self management skills, focus on being a change agent within your organization. Start small by trying to make a positive impact on an important project, meeting, or team collaboration. This can help you to develop self-confidence, while providing a learning opportunity that can sharpen your leadership and management skills.

8.      Practice decisiveness

Self-managers need to be able to make decisions and follow through on them. To do that, you need to be able to trust your own instincts and reason, envision solutions to problems, and commit to decisive action. If you're someone who regularly seeks external advice before solving problems, try to avoid that tendency and learn to rely on your own competence and good judgment. Over time, this can help you to develop the decisiveness you need to take on ever more important roles in your organization.

9.      Be clear about your role

When it comes to self management techniques, knowing your role may be one of the most important things that you can do to improve these skills. You should always strive to fully understand your place within the company, so that you know exactly what your superiors expect from you. Become an expert in your position, familiar with each aspect of your job description. Applying that same principle to every task and project assigned to you can make it a lot easier to manage yourself and your results.

10.      Focus on things you can control

One of the biggest obstacles to effective self management is an inability to stop yourself from trying to control everything around you. To be an effective self-manager, you need to understand that you're not responsible for things that you cannot control. So focus on those things that you can, and learn to respond positively to everything else.

11.      Practice being mindful

Mindfulness is another important component for self-regulation and an important way to be more productive and efficient in all that you do. Practice being “in the moment” by focusing on the task or goal at hand rather than dwelling on the past or constantly looking to the future. Develop the ability to remain focused on accepting the present as it is, without judgment or negativity. If you struggle with this, try some simple breathing exercises, meditation, or other techniques that can help you to relax and pay greater attention to your current reality.

12.      Forget about multitasking

If you've been raised to believe that multitasking is the key to productivity, forget everything you've ever been told. Studies have consistently shown that the human mind is actually not designed to efficiently focus on more than one task at a time. In fact, for more than 97% of the human population, any attempt to multitask results in less efficiency and a greater likelihood of mistakes and subpar quality. To be effective in your work, you need to focus on one thing at a time.

13.      Be true to your word

A truly effective self-manager can always be counted on to do what they say they'll do. You should work to develop your commitment to keeping your word, so that your peers and superiors will come to recognize that you can always be counted on to follow through on promises. Of course, your ability to keep your word will require some self-control too. Be careful about the commitments that you make. Before you say “yes” to a request, be sure that you can commit fully to following through.

Make sure that you only commit to tasks and projects that will not impede your ability to fulfill your primary role within the company. If you're asked to help with something and know that you won't have the time, don't be afraid to decline. Finally, whenever you say “yes” to a request, take the time to ensure that you fully understand the parameters.

14.      Learn to master time management

You won't make much progress in learning to manage yourself until you learn to manage how you use time. Effective time management requires a combination of well-developed organizational, planning, and task prioritization skills. By mastering each of those skills and applying them to your work efforts, you'll be able to accomplish more, with less effort and time, therefore improving your productivity and efficiency.

15.      Self-motivation

Our final self management skill involves the ability to keep yourself motivated. Employers always appreciate workers who are “self-starters,” because they know that these employees have the internal self-motivation needed to keep them on task and driving toward success. By developing your own positive attitude and personal commitment to success, you can learn to prioritize the right things, take responsibility for your achievements, and become the self-motivated superstar that every company needs.

Use your new self management skills for career success

Self management is not an easy thing to learn, but can be one of the most important skill sets that you can develop if you want to succeed in your career. By working to improve the key skills outlined in this post, you can enhance your personal development, increase key leadership abilities, and enjoy the career advancement that you seek.

Does your resume adequately convey your self management abilities to potential employers? Find out by getting your free resume review from our team of experts today!

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