Marsha Egan explains why good self management enhances your potential for success
Leadership is about having a vision and inspiring others. This has been and will always be true, but modern leaders and high achievers face the challenge of processing information faster than ever before. In addition to leading others, now, more than ever, they need to lead themselves. Whether you hold a leadership position or not, your ability to lead yourself directly relates to your potential to reach the successes you desire.
Managing yourself today means making the time to do what is necessary to your success and the success of those around you. This ability to “self manage” or “self lead” is critical. Self-management enables leaders to focus on those actions that are most important for their businesses and themselves.
Self-management is the ability to set the right priorities for tasks, to focus on the issue at hand, to run on all cylinders and to muster the self-motivation to do it. It means WE take the reins. Many times, the difference between successful people and those less so is that the more successful ones have used their time more wisely. The return on investment of time is much greater. We all have only 24 hours each day, and a plethora of distractions, requests and projects continually competing for attention. The ability to work on the right tasks at the right time requires thoughtful self-management. We must take a proactive approach to selecting how we use our time.
Sometimes, being proactive about the use of your time means a deferral, rather than an immediate response. “Not now” doesn’t mean “never.” Too many workers mistake the need to respond immediately with the need to respond. When working on a mission critical project, allowing yourself to be interrupted by a newly delivered e-mail message or a coworker’s unexpected visit detracts from your priority. With each potential distraction, today’s successful workers will be well served to ask themselves, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” That e-mail and your coworker can probably wait.
To effectively self-manage, you must also understand that multitasking is a myth. While some people believe they can successfully multitask, the reality is that they can’t. We have the capacity to focus on only one item, just as we can only be in one place at one time. Although it is possible to move back and forth from one task to another, to think that you can work on two things at the same time will only detract your full attention from one of those tasks. Without full attention, your ability to deliver an excellent result becomes limited. When we know that the absolute best use of our time is concentrating on the task-at-hand, the temptation to think about other things can be reduced. That’s where self-management becomes a real asset to the success seeker.
“Making time” not “finding time”
If you hope to find time in this whirlwind society, you won’t. Instead, embrace the concept of making time for those important actions that will help you stay ahead in your organization. If you hope to find time to write a handwritten thank-you note to a deserving employee, chances are it won’t get done. But, if you make the time to write the note, you will proactively put it on your schedule and increase the likelihood of completing it.
With all the potential stress that awaits us, the ability to handle various physical and intellectual demands depends on how well we take care of ourselves. Eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and striving for work–life balance are all elemental to the self-care that will empower our success. Being able to think clearly and set the right priorities is a direct result of physical well being, after all.
Today’s leaders and high achievers are not just managing others — they’re leading themselves. They have a vision for themselves, and not just for their businesses or for the people they lead. They have goals and action plans. They set weekly priorities that work toward their overall life plans. They choose how to spend their time, and don’t allow time to manage them. And they take care of their bodies and minds so that they can nurture others. In this hustle-bustle world, the key to survival is making time to survive. If we don’t, we’ll get lost in the mix.