Self-Management Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-management skills allow you to make the most of your time at work. These abilities maximise your productivity because they increase the quality of your work. Developing self-management skills can help you achieve professional goals, increase your chances of finding a job and manage your career path more effectively. In this article, we identify self-management skills for the workplace and offer tips for improving them.

What are self-management skills?

Self-management skills refer to the ability to hold yourself responsible for your actions and your capacity to do your work as well as you can. Someone who has good self-management skills can control their thoughts, feelings and actions at work. If you have strong self-management skills, you can set your own goals and use your initiative to reach them efficiently. Using these skills can help you progress in your career and find opportunities that get you closer to your ideal job.

Examples of self-management skills

Self-management means that you can work independently and handle your job without needing supervision or motivation from others. Here are some examples of self-management skills:

  • Accountability

  • Goal setting

  • Organisation

  • Self-motivation

  • Stress management

  • Time management

Accountability

When you hold yourself accountable, it means that you take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. You diligently check your work to see if there are ways you can improve to get the best possible results. You can be satisfied when your work is successful, or you accept responsibility when problems occur and look for ways to improve your work using your problem-solving skills. Accountability is about ownership and your attitude when it comes to the task rather than how successful it turned out.

Goal setting

Goal setting means that you can decide what you need to achieve in a clear and understandable way. When you set goals at work, you decide what is most important and create an action plan to achieve it. You need strong goal-setting skills to make sure that you manage your time and actions effectively to reach your personal milestones.

Organisation

When you organise something, it means that you arrange it in a neat and orderly manner that you can use easily and efficiently. You can use organisational skills to plan your time and workload.

When you have strong organisational skills, it is easier to meet your work deadlines as well, which shows that you know how to manage yourself effectively. Keeping your workspace tidy and organised also shows your employer that you are responsible and serious about your work.

Self-motivation

Self-motivation refers to the way you can take initiative and finish tasks. When you are self-motivated, you plan ahead for tasks you need to complete. Someone who is self-motivated wants to succeed and does not just do the minimum amount of necessary work. They pursue excellence and put in extra effort to progress with their projects and activities without needing motivation from supervisors.

Stress management

Stress management can take on many forms. It can mean having a healthy diet, exercising, meditating or journaling about your experiences. When you try to manage your workplace stress, it helps you remain calm and collected while you work. Handling stress before it becomes an issue allows you to focus on your goals and make steady progress. It also helps you manage your emotions and maintain a professional attitude in the workplace.

Time management

Making the best use of your time is an essential part of self-management. It helps you prioritise tasks, avoid distractions and maintain focus. Effective time management in the workplace helps with setting and meeting deadlines, working on one thing at a time and delegating responsibilities appropriately.

How to improve self-management skills

Consider making a small checklist to help you develop your self-management skills and abilities. Follow these steps to think about how you can improve your skills to better perform your work tasks:

  1. Assess your strengths. Find out what professional tasks you can do best, and focus on ways to maximise your skills in these areas. Understanding your strengths can help you manage your career path to make the most of your technical skills like coding, graphic design, technical writing and customer service.

  2. Prioritise your responsibilities. Clearly define which responsibilities are most important to your work, and focus your attention on the most critical jobs. Avoid distractions that take you away from what is most important.

  3. Develop organisational systems. Come up with effective methods that help you stay organised, streamline your day, manage your time and keep important items in an accessible place. This step might include starting a to-do list, setting up a time-management app on your phone or creating a filing system at your desk.

  4. Create strict deadlines. Assign deadlines to each stage of a project to more easily maintain your schedule. Hold yourself accountable for getting tasks done on time or even ahead of schedule by putting in more hours when needed to reach your specific goals and checkpoints.

  5. Perform one task at a time. Focus your energy, time and abilities on one task rather than multiple at a time. Complete each task before moving on to another in order to properly manage your time and effort.

  6. Practise patience. It's important to maintain a sense of calm to help you think more clearly and objectively. This also helps you be more considerate of others. Try to think about their needs and experiences to help them as much as you can.

  7. Take care of your health and wellness. It's important to exercise, lower your stress levels and maintain a proper diet and good personal hygiene to improve your self-management skills. Make sure to take breaks from work to clear your mind and move around, and keep healthy snacks nearby for when you get hungry.

  8. Evaluate your progress. Objectively assess the progress you have made toward your goals by setting checkpoints throughout the process and tracking your progress to see what you have accomplished. You can also ask an experienced colleague for assistance to get a more thorough assessment. Use this feedback to improve your self-management as you progress in your career.

Self-management skills in the workplace

Carefully managing your tasks at work can help you achieve your professional goals. Here are some tips for self-management in the workplace that you can use to maintain a productive and efficient schedule:

  • Arrive at meetings on time and prepared. Spend time the day before a meeting to gather any information you may need to bring and come up with questions to ask. It's also a good idea to review your questions and notes right before the meeting to ensure that you are focused on the goals and can be a useful contributor.

  • Plan for the next day before leaving work. Leave time at the end of each workday to organise your calendar, write a new to-do list or fill in your planner so that you know what tasks you need to complete the next day. You can also use this time to review what you managed to accomplish to see how successful you were in reaching your daily goals.

  • Keep an organised agenda. Write a detailed schedule of all of your events, deadlines and meetings to better manage your projects, tasks and responsibilities. Consider using a planner or task-tracking application to organise these items.

  • Outline project goals. Carefully mark any strict deadlines in a planner or calendar so that you can track when they need to be completed.

  • Assess projects early on. Before you start a project, ask questions to make sure that you understand exactly what you need to do. You can also ask questions after starting a task to ensure that you are completing it correctly.

How to highlight self-management skills

Strong self-management skills are a valuable asset in any workplace. Make sure to highlight self-management skills appropriately so that employers can recognise your abilities.

Self-management skills for the resume and cover letter

In your resume, it's important to include specific self-management skills, such as organisation, goal setting and time management, and provide examples of those skills in your job responsibilities. In your cover letter, build on the self-management skills you list in your resume by explaining how you used them to improve your productivity and efficiency in your previous jobs.

Example: 'I have always used calendar management to organise my daily responsibilities and set clear deadlines for long-term projects. Managing my calendar gives me time to fact-check my work and complete assignments on time. I also take the initiative to share my calendar system with my colleagues to help them organise their own daily tasks. This has helped improve my team's efficiency in the past and ensured that we completed assignments ahead of schedule'.

Self-management skills for the job interview

Demonstrate your self-management skills in your interview by preparing ahead of time and arriving on time or early. Make sure to wear appropriate clothes and bring a copy of your resume. You should also research the company beforehand so that you can talk about specific projects the business has completed during the interview. These activities show that you can think ahead and take the initiative to prepare.

Look for opportunities to highlight your self-management abilities as you answer interview questions. You might discuss your strong organisational skills, proactive goal-setting skills and timeliness. Give specific examples of these skills from previous jobs.

Example: 'In my last position, I handled employee schedules and discussed specific needs with my team members. I also kept track of all cancelled meetings, planned leave, and made sure that the schedules were always accurate'.

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