If you want to take back control of the trajectory of your life, you’ll want to improve your self-management.

What’s that? You’re not familiar with self-management? While, this consists of skills that guide us in making decisions, how we react, and control our thoughts and feelings. Self-management also keeps us accountable in that we know what has to get done without being prompted.

Want to be Extraordinary? Improve Your Self-Management

So, yeah. Self-management is pretty important. Thankfully, it’s an area that you can improve. And, to get started, focus on these 10 strategies.

1. Keep your promises.

In my opinion, this is the same as making a contract with yourself. If you say you’ll be done a task by noon, then that’s your deadline. Planning to meet a friend or business acquaintance for lunch at 12:30 PM? Then you need to be on time.

In short, always do what you said you would do (DWYSYWD). It builds trust, expands opportunities, and earns you a solid reputation. It also keeps you consistent and helps you prioritize.

For example, if you have that lunch meeting, that’s a top priority. As such, you wouldn’t accept a video call or new assignment that would create a calendar conflict. Instead, you would decline these invites or reschedule them at a more convenient time.

2. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

The other day, I really didn’t want to be cooped up inside working. I could hear the birds chirping and see the sun radiate against a cloudless, blue sky. Suffice to say; I want to enjoy the weather.

At the same time, because I had promises to keep, I was chained to my desk until they were addressed. Still, I could focus. To break out of this loop, I implemented the 2-minute rule.

In this case, I set a timer for 2-minutes to work on something. Anything. It started with responding to a couple of emails, which built momentum.

The next thing I knew, I was all ready to dive into my most important task of the day. After I completed it, I treated myself to a very long walk with my dog. Sometimes, you need to get started to build up some stream.

3. Prioritize yourself.

There’s a reason why on flights, you’re told to put on your own oxygen mask first. If you don’t, you’re not only putting yourself at risk; you also won’t be able to help and assist others. The same is true with taking care of your overall health and wellbeing.

When you’re eating fast food, running on fumes, and feeling like you could snap at any second, you’re doing a disservice to yourself. You could also be jeopardizing your relationships if you lose your temper. And, you can definitely forget about following through on your commitments and being productive.

I know that you’ve heard this a million times. But, you need to squeeze in physical activity, eat a healthy diet, and get a good night’s rest. You also need to find ways to destress and unplug. And, if you need to talk to someone, reach out to your support system or mental health professional.

4. Adopt the GTD framework.

“Self-management is about knowing what to do at any given moment,” says David Allen, creator of the Getting Things Done methodology. “It’s dealing effectively with the things we have to do to achieve our goals and fulfill our purpose. It’s also about deciding the importance of the varied and constant information coming at us.”

And, as I’m sure that you’ve guessed, the GTD framework accomplishes just that by;

  • Capturing everything from email reasons to meeting agendas to random ideas.
  • Clarifying everything you need to do and determining what requires action and what doesn’t
  • Organizing these actions by priority.
  • Reflecting on your to-do lists so that you can determine what to do, delegate, delay, or delete.
  • Engage by breaking down your priorities into achievable actions.

5. Debunk the myth of multitasking.

Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about folding the laundry or cleaning dishes while on the phone with a friend as the type of multitasking you shouldn’t try. Rather, multitasking-myth is when you’re chatting on Slack while also engaged in deep work, such as research for content or planning a meeting. These require 100% of your attention and concentration, so doing two or more tasks simultaneously prevents this from occurring.

Moreover, the human brain is set up to handle only one task at a time. Also, multitasking can lower your IQ, working memory, and productivity. And, it can deplete your energy reserves and cause you to slow down.

As a general rule of thumb, stop believing in the myth of multitasking. Instead, embrace single-tasking by doing one thing at a time.

6. Create micro-goals.

Micro-goals are responsible for several successful brand launches that I have been a part of,” wrote Jonathan Long, founder of Uber Brands, previously in Entrepreneur. “When you identify several smaller goals and commit to hitting each one, it keeps you accountable in terms of the overall success of the end goal.”

“When we launched an ecommerce brand in a week, it was a result of a well-thought-out plan that had several micro-goals we needed to knock out of the park — manufacturer, branding, website, logistics, financial goals, marketing plan, and the launch,” added Long. “Without the smaller goals identified, we would never have gone to launch in a week’s time.”

7. Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

A 2016 study found that we tend to improve we’re weak. In theory, that does make sense. However, various other studies show that when you focus on your strengths, you’re;

  • Happier
  • Less stressed
  • Healthier and more energetic
  • More satisfied with your life
  • More confident
  • Faster at experiencing growth and development
  • More creative and agile
  • More engaged at work

Not exactly sure what your strengths are?

Well, start by paying attention to what you’re passionate about or the feedback you receive. Additionally, you can compose a list of your accomplishments or think about how you feel after certain activities. And, when all else fails, asks those who trust.

When you have an idea of what your strengths are, seek out ways to enhance them. Obviously, learning through reading or taking a class is a must. But, you can also focus on hobbies or job responsibilities that allow you to show off your talents.

8. Put yourself back in the driver’s seat.

Some of you might not understand this idiosyncrasy, but I prefer to drive myself to places. The main reason? If I need to leave for some reason, I can leave whenever I want — because I have my car.

What’s strange about this is that I don’t consider myself a control freak. I enjoy the freedom. Plus, it helps put my anxiety at ease.

But, this mentality has also been key to my self-management. By taking the wheel and owning the road, I only focus on what I have control over. That means I’m not wasting precious time and energy on what other drivers are doing.

Furthermore, this has helped me say “yes” to less. As a result, I’m not overcommitting myself. And it prevents me from making excuses or becoming a martyr.

9. Make a Ulysses pact.

Derived from Homer’s The Odyssey, this is also known as a commitment device. It’s simply “a technique from behavioral psychology that allows us to choose the present that binds us or ‘locks us in’ to an action or decision in the future,” explains Nick Wignall. “Usually by means of a structured system of external constraints or incentives.”

“A common example of a Ulysses Pact in regular life is setting up automatic bill pay or investment contributions,” he adds.

Psychologically, this “works by acknowledging that human beings are often less than completely rational,” says Wignall. “Instead of bemoaning this fact of human nature, or stubbornly trying to willpower our way into good decisions in the face of immediate temptation, the Ulysses Pact exemplifies a more creative and clever approach to doing the right thing.”

As opposed to “hoping for good intentions to withstand the onslaught of immediate temptation, we build a system during times of rationality to ensure that those good intentions persist when our rationality inevitably goes on break.”

10. Pencil in time for preparation and self-reflection.

Finally, at the end of the day, carve out some alone time. You don’t need to disappear for hours at a time. Instead, take a couple of minutes to reflect on your accomplishments, mistakes and track your progress.

And, since no one else is around, give yourself a high-five. It’s a small but effective way to celebrate.

Also, you can use solitude to plan and prepare. For example, you could jot down your grocery list, lay out your clothes, and add your priorities to your calendar. After all, productivity doesn’t just happen; you need an action plan to make it become a reality.

Image: ono kosuki; pexels; thank you!