My high school motto was “so much to do so little done.” I believe as educators they realized that the job of educating a child is one that’s never really done. We also find ourselves with so much to do and so little done on a daily basis. With the demands of life in general and the need to achieve audacious goals, self-management becomes very important. Effectiveness cannot be achieved without tactfully deploying one’s efforts, resources, and time to the things that really matter. You could be a student, parent, entrepreneur, or company executive, there is an overwhelming demand on your time particularly these days. Most people are burnt – out because they are taking care of everything else except themselves. You need not despair because the solution is not far.
Self-management is defined as management of oneself, which means taking responsibility for your own behavior and well-being. It is not easy to achieve because it takes a lot of self-discipline to achieve. Self-management starts with finding a way to organize yourself. Those who don’t organize will look back and see their lives littered with uncompleted tasks and projects. When you manage yourself well you will do well. Self-management is not about being busy. That will only produce toil without desired results. When you self-manage, you are not just moving from task to task but you create a system that works and brings out the best in you. What works for one person may not work for another. I like to use “to do” lists. I do not start the day without a list of what I need to accomplish. If I have not written it down it almost always does not get done. Writing things down enables me to visualize, prioritize and execute my activities in order of importance. Find out what works for you and do it.
You are blessed if you go to work and come back home from work. That distinction is a positive because you can focus. However, with more people turning to entrepreneurial, home-based businesses, there is an increased demand for self-management. Imagine a young mother who has a toddler and a school-going child running a business from home. She has the daunting challenge of balancing the different tasks because she has to attend to the business and domestic chores at the same time. You may not be a “work from home mom” but at some point, you will need to juggle multiple tasks with limited time available. What works for me is I do not attempt to manage time, but instead I try to manage priorities. Sometimes there is a need to leverage in order to get more things done. Instead of doing a menial task and spending the whole day, you could hire someone to do it and spend your time on a higher pay-off activity. I was doing one of my first sales jobs as a Telesales Executive. The Sales Manager needed to send direct mail to customers and being the most junior member of staff, I was tasked with folding letters and sealing envelopes. I had been at it for close to an hour when the Managing Director walked into our office and inquired as to what I was doing. The Sales Manager explained that the mail needed to go out to customers. The Managing Director was not happy and suggested that my boss, the Sales Manager hire casual labor to do it as selling was a more important priority for me than sealing envelopes.
Self-management includes taking responsibility for one’s well-being. Sleep deprivation leads to some forms of illness. You are not a machine. The biggest cause of stress, depression, and other related diseases is sleep deprivation and a general lack of rest. Scheduled rest and replenishment are just as important as those high-priority activities. I was studying for my Bachelors’ Degree in Marketing while holding down a full-time job at the same time. This was a few weeks before we wrote examinations. I had been denied study leave by my boss because we were very busy at work. Therefore, I had to find a way to study since I was writing my last four subjects which I needed to pass. I started doing all-night studying and relying on energy tablets to keep me awake. I passed and graduated with a distinction in one of the subjects but at what cost? In the aftermath, I struggled with sleep, ended up stressed and distressed. Ultimately, I visited some doctors and was diagnosed with neuralgia – pain in the course of my nerves. They told me that if I had delayed, I would have suffered a stroke. I have since been healed but I believe that I could have practiced better self-management. Just because you can keep going doesn’t mean you do not need rest. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. You are your biggest asset. Take time to replenish and recharge your energy.
Rest needs to be factored into whatever plan you come up with because without it you cannot execute effectively. Take the occasional holiday to unwind. Leave your mobile phone and laptop behind and go on a “retreat.” I remember every school holiday was like camping: we usually went hundreds of kilometers out of town and stayed in rustic accommodations or sometimes in tents. We would enjoy a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I need to go back to that tried and tested tradition of getting away from it all.
What do you like to do to unwind after a long days’ work? Some fitness enthusiasts prefer to go to the gym, cycle, jog, or take a dance class. Others prefer live music, going to the movies or simply taking a walk in the neighborhood in the cool of the day. I love to listen to music and make music in my free time. Ensure that you factor whatever works for you, into your schedule.
Self-management also entails creating checks and balances and mechanisms of accountability. When you have a mentor to whom you must give account at regular intervals you will get things done. They will ensure that you stick to the things you said you would do, including the unpleasant task that needs to be done. Agree on deadlines with him or her so that you can tick your progress.
In conclusion, I hope I have shared some things that will enable you to manage yourself and be more productive, happy and healthy.
Fitzgerald Mujuru is an entrepreneur with an interest in leadership development, communication, sales and marketing. He is also a professional speaker, trainer and author. He writes extensively on effectiveness in business as well as personal life. Fitzgerald is married to Kuda, and they have a daughter. They reside in Johannesburg, South Africa. https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/fitzmujuru or amazon.com/author/fitzgeraldmujuru.