Self-management is an important skill to master when working on personal and professional development. It includes such things as motivation, self-organization, time skills, goal setting, planning and decision making. Successful self-management enhances clarity, self-determination and satisfaction in both private and working life.

What is self-management?

Confident young businesswoman smiling

Managing oneself well means being able to regulate one’s own needs, feelings and behaviours appropriately. Those who are able to do this are generally more satisfied and also work in a more goal-oriented manner. Various self-management methods and techniques can help with motivation, setting goals and priorities, and organizing work. Self-competence can be learned and developed. Effective self-competence can help drive autonomous personal and professional development.

Methods for developing self-competence

Different self-management methods can help with organization, structuring, goal setting or time planning in professional or personal everyday life. There is no need to apply all of the methods at the same time. Trying out different approaches can be helpful. For example, focus first on a specific area where you want to develop, such as priority setting, organization, productivity or time planning. 

1. The ABC method

This method also supports priority setting. With the division into categories A, B or C, a clear plan and recommendations for action are created. All tasks that arise are divided into the three levels of importance and processed accordingly.

2. The Eisenhower matrix

The Eisenhower principle can be used to separate important from less important and urgent from less urgent tasks and thus enable more effective prioritization. Four possible combinations of importance and urgency indicate different recommendations for action.

3. The SMART method

Goals are often formulated very vaguely. However, in order to carry out plans or projects successfully, a clear objective is essential. Formulating goals "smartly" means describing them in terms of how specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and trackable they are.

4. The Pareto principle (also 80-20 rule)

The 80-20 rule is based on the idea that 80% of the results are achieved with 20% of the total effort. For 20% of the results, 80% of the time is used. It becomes clear that a lot of time is spent working on things which make up only a relatively small part of the overall result.

5. The ALPEN method

The ALPEN method improves time planning and structure in the working day. For this purpose, all pending tasks (Aufgaben) are written down. In the second step, the length of the task (Länge) is added. The time should be realistic and include a deadline. In the third step, the time specifications are corrected and a buffer (Puffer) is scheduled. In the fourth step, a decision (Entscheidung) is made regarding which tasks are important and which are not. At the end of the day, a follow-up check (Nachkontrolle) is made and a balance is drawn.

Integrate self-management methods into everyday life

Try it out
Not all methods work equally well or are useful for every task. Start by trying one method and, if it doesn't fit, try another.
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Focus on one method
Don't overwhelm yourself by applying several methods at the same time. Rather, focus on one and add to it as needed.
Water glass with apple
Schedule breaks
Don't forget to schedule breaks between concentrated work phases. Fresh air, water or moving around a bit help you to refocus and recharge your batteries after a phase of work.
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Celebrate progress and success
The path to greater self-competence is not completed in a day. When you notice how you can structure your daily work routine more easily or handle tasks more efficiently, reward yourself for it.

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