Today’s working life needs self-guided individuals. One aspect of being self-guided is the art of self-management – truly, it is an art: a journey during which one discovers new nuances and perspectives, develops and grows, enjoys the eternal incompleteness and learning. Self-management methods are not a toolbox that one puts together once and then tries to muddle through the rest of their life by using the same old tools. Self-management is a process that is fine-tuned, based on the changing situations and the wonderful unexpectedness of life.   

Taking care of the basics

Surely you remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and its bottom level? You cannot expect yourself to be motivated and goal-oriented and have a high level of performance if you neglect your physical basic needs. Therefore, ensure that you eat, drink, sleep and exercise sufficiently. 

Self-knowledge

Self-knowledge and applying that information to guide your actions is a significant resource. You need to know how to treat yourself kindly, be demanding of yourself, proud of yourself, and so on. It is you who should know best what you need in any given situation. For myself, getting started on a task when I am full of excitement and feel good, even a bit manic, is easy. However, in reality, I get more done when my mood is a bit gloomier, when I am not feeling that social. Back in the day, I realized that I somehow automatically listened to heavy metal when I was cleaning my house, but it just added some aggression to a chore that is not among my favorites. By experimenting with different genres, I found that salsa works better and puts me in the right mood to get something unpleasant done. Of course, if your sense of humor is up for it, you can laugh both at and with yourself. I’ve been thinking that I should perhaps get some kind of robe that indicates that I am the victim for situations that, for some reason or another, I approach with an attitude that by default is not going to work. 

Mood management

On the day of his game, I was trying to get my son to wear underpants with pictures of sheep on them. He said that they were a fine pair of underwear, but absolutely not something he would wear on the day of the game. I completely understood – of course he wouldn’t. In that context, it is easy to understand the importance of psyching oneself up and see the pre-game rituals as an activity that somehow makes sense. When the goal is to win today’s game, nobody wants to take any risks in the preparations. But this is how we all should start each day: put our power tune on, wear our lucky underwear, psych ourselves up: who’s gonna be the winner today – I am! 

Choices 

Life is full of choices. Sometimes they are easy and obvious, other times difficult and painful. Some things must be approached rationally, listening to one’s head. Sometimes, though, you should listen to your heart and intuition. Either way, it is important to understand that there are choices and that you are the one who can actively make them. Allowing something or someone to affect your mood and enthusiasm is a choice. Of course, some people are more sensitive than others, and I, for example, am reasonably sensitive to absorb moods and emotions from people around me, but it is probably not a good idea to allow sensitivity to get the best of you. I have a say in how my day turns out and I can choose the mood I start it with. 

Concentration

Today, one needs to work a bit harder than before in order to concentrate. We are constantly under pressure to be available at all times, and we are expected to be available via numerous channels. However, in order to get things done and perform well and efficiently, stimuli need to be limited and all distractions pushed aside. That is not always easy: work e-mails and chat messages keep pouring in, the phone rings, someone is knocking at the door, the myriad WhatsApp groups require your attention, Hobbydeed alerts you to the changed schedules of the kids’ hobbies and effectively ruins the car pool plans for the evening, the Helmi or Wilma applications remind you of the school field trip tomorrow, prompting the refrigerator file in your mind to open: do we have supplies for a packed lunch at home or do I need to get groceries, Outlook reminds you of a meeting that’s about to start, and Teams tells you that you have plenty of tasks to do. And then the smart watch on your wrist tells you that your stress levels have been too high for a while now and your resources for the day are just about to be depleted. I think you get my drift. 

And, finally, recovery

In order for you to make tomorrow a good day for yourself as well, remember to make sure you recover and replenish your resources. Actively seek ways to unwind and lower your heart rate. Think about how you like to relax, what you enjoy, what is important and meaningful in your daily life – things that you are not ready to compromise on since they make your day a good one. 

So remember to take care of yourself, because you are important. That, if anything, is self-management.