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“Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction” — Unknown

You manage small scale projects in between larger, more far-reaching projects. You strategize to integrate the right resources for all of your projects, and you also spend a lot of time managing your subordinates. You are there to encourage or educate them when things go wrong. You take the time to recognize their efforts when they excel, and you still take time to manage long-term planning processes for next year and beyond.

But are you managing yourself?

How to Manage Yourself

It’s common for business leaders to be “too busy” all the time. You live life from problem to problem, and as a result, there is no opportunity to enjoy all that you have fostered in other people and all the ideas you have developed while excelling at your job. A business, or even a department within an organization, is a reflection of the person running the show. So if that person is stressed or poorly organized, then these characteristics will be reflected in the business.

That’s why it’s important to take time to manage yourself.

You may not have been managing yourself so far because:

  • You are comfortable, and we tend to stay with what is comfortable.
  • You don’t know what your possible limits actually are.
  • You aren’t aware that there are other ways to do what you are doing.
  • You may get an energy boost from high stress and a heavy workload.

Let’s look at the steps to a different approach: self-management. Why is self-management a worthy skill? Think of nonbusiness teams like firefighters or emergency-room crews, whose members are constantly shifting. Yet their teams perform well. Why? They’re self-managing. They do their work effectively and help their colleagues immensely, strengthening the team as a whole.

Building Self-Management Skills

Here are a few steps to improving your self-management skills:

  1. Clarify your personal goals. Many of us lose sight of these as we get immersed in the rush of day-to-day life. Do your personal goals complement your business goals? Asking yourself this question will root out any dissonance between these two areas of your life. And remember, you DO have two areas; professional and personal. If they are not in harmony, determine whether the business goals can be re-oriented or modified to support what you would like to achieve personally.
  2. What role do you want to have? Imagine yourself three or four years from now. Think about who you want to be. What role do you want to have in the business? Thinking about what you want in the future can give you great insights into what strategies you may need to put in place now.
  3. Look at how you are actually spending your time. If you really are true to yourself when you do this exercise you will learn a lot about where the potential lies for making changes. Are you accomplishing your prioritized tasks each day? Self-awareness, or understanding your own behavior and the reasons for doing it, is a valuable skill to have. How are you really spending your time? Break your day down into at least half hour slots and write down exactly what you do in each 30 minutes. Imagine that your doctor has asked you to keep a food journal to reveal your major calorie intake times of the day. This is what you want for your time journal. Be honest but not too hard on yourself. Make an effort to remain neutral in your journal, and you’ll learn from your observations.

This is your life. Be conscious of how you are living it. There is never a better time than right now for planning to do things differently. Take charge of yourself and your business by choosing a direction that allows you to meet both your personal and business goals, and still retain your sanity!

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. www.leadershipconsulting.com

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