3 min read

How to Sharpen Your Self-Management Skills

Working on self-management skills is crucial to stay productive and succeed. Sasha Podolinskaya, Manager of People Programs at EPAM, explains what these skills include, and shares 6 tips on how to sharpen them.

Sasha Podolinskaya, Manager of People Programs


— Perhaps you met that person with strong self-management skills who knows what to do and how to act in different situations. For instance, they know how to avoid distractions while working from home, so they can maintain focus and stay productive. They know what they need to do to achieve their fitness goals — and they follow through. Self-management sounds like a superpower, doesn’t it?

I think many of us can relate to difficulties with self-management both in our professional and personal lives. For example, being lost in procrastination, unable to start an important task, or staying up late to watch ‘just one more’ episode of a TV show even though there is much to do tomorrow.

I believe that working on self-management is crucial to succeed, yet it may not be as easy since it involves so many things like time, stress, motivation management; being able to stay agile, and work on your goals. To put it differently, self-management is about having an honest conversation with oneself.

Before moving on to some practical tips and tricks, it is important to understand the main skills involved:

  • time management,
  • self-motivation,
  • stress management,
  • adaptability, decision-making,
  • goal alignment, and
  • personal development.

You can read more here.

6 tips to sharpen your self-management skills

  • Organize your space. Having an organized workplace (physical and digital) or living space can actually minimize the amount of stress and ambiguity and increase your efficiency. You won’t need to spend hours looking for that one file, that you really need right now and that you saved in some random folder a couple of weeks back.
  • Understand your role and responsibilities. Having a clear picture of what the scope of your duties is, how your work matters, and how it can be measured will help you set and align your goals, plan, and deliver better.
  • Set, align, and prioritize your goals. Setting goals is kind of the basics that help you identify the direction you are moving in, and you may use the SMART goals framework to make your goals more tangible and measurable. Though setting goals is not enough for good self-management. Aside from setting the goals, you need to make sure these are aligned with the organizational goals, so that you and your team understand the bigger picture and what effect the work you do will have on the company. Last but not least, prioritization — as we live in a very fast-paced environment, it is important to adapt on the fly. You need to have a clear understanding of what is the priority status of each of the goals to be able to adjust your plans as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Choose a task manager. Having a task manager will help you have a holistic picture of the things you need to do, and the priorities/dependencies/scope involved, and will also keep you on track with all your deadlines. There are plenty of options available for this: some people use basic MS Excel, others prefer Miro or Trello, it is also possible to use different apps at the same time, but, overall, it very much depends on what suits your needs more. So, I would encourage you to try different options to see what works best for you.
  • Conduct 1:1 meetings with yourself. Set time aside for yourself to stay on your plan, for example, a one-hour weekly meeting where you review your progress; catalog any issues or areas for improvement; do a retrospective to reflect on the completed tasks; and update your plans for the next week, month, or quarter. For example, if you have problems with starting your week in an organized manner, you may do these 1:1s with yourself at the end of every Friday to kind of “check out” for the week, so you know where to pick up next week.
  • Take care of yourself. Self-care may seem not like a priority, irrelevant or generic, however, self-management is about how well we manage our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and we cannot do this without taking the time to manage our stress, show ourselves appreciation, and incorporate rest and play into our hectic days. In a way, self-care is one of the keys to success when it comes to self-management, as it brings more self-awareness and helps you reflect on your experiences. More often than not, you may notice that your brain feels jumbled, and you’re having a hard time getting anything done. Self-care is an essential way to combat feeling overworked and stressed. Whether it’s setting boundaries at work by not working till late night, getting in 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week, or eating some delicious food while spending time with your loved ones, any form of self-care can enable us to have a more balanced lifestyle and, ultimately, better self-management.