Self management hacks for the self-employed

Self-management is exactly what it sounds like - managing yourself. Think of how a manager at work may handle workflow and influence your behaviours in the workplace, perhaps by setting deadlines or providing feedback on your work. For those who are self-employed, it’s not as easy to stay on track without someone checking in on you. By learning essential self-management skills, you can boost your productivity and effectively manage your work performance without having to answer to somebody else. Read on for some self-management hacks that will transform the way you work for yourself.

How to develop your self-management skills

Know your strengths and weaknesses

Take some time to write down your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be too modest or overly confident - you need to evaluate your own ability accurately in order to self-manage efficiently. It might be helpful to ask for feedback from people you have worked with in the past or from friends and family.

Know your motives and values

Why are you doing what you’re doing? If you find yourself losing motivation, go back to basics and ask yourself why you decided to work for yourself in the first place. You should also know your values and stick to them with every piece of work you complete to maintain a consistent reputation.

Role clarity

Don’t try to be a jack of all trades - know your role and stick to it. It can be easy to get carried away and start attempting to do things that aren’t actually relevant. It might be helpful to write down your responsibilities and keep them nearby to stay on track.

Be open to change 

It doesn’t matter which self-help book or TED talk you get advice from, if it doesn’t work for you, change it up. The whole point of self-employment is that you are in control, and self-management means implementing changes when something isn’t quite right.

Set long and short term goals

Once you have your long-term goals set out, make sure that your daily and weekly goals are contributing towards your end result. As simple as it sounds, having to-do lists will help you to prioritise tasks and keep track of your progress, both short and long-term.

Set deadlines

If you know you have a certain amount of tasks to complete, make sure you prioritise and set deadlines to stop yourself from being overwhelmed.

Create a routine that works for you

Make sure to define your working hours. Whether you’re starting at 7am or 7pm, it’s important to have consistency in your routine. You can block out certain days for different tasks, and don’t forget to leave time for admin or any extras.

Schedule breaks and holidays 

When you’re self-employed, it might feel like you should be working at all times. Treat yourself as if you were your own employee, and schedule plenty of productive work breaks so that you don’t burn out.

Learn to say no

When you’re your own boss, there’s no one else to stand up for you. It’s important not to overload your schedule or do things you’re unhappy about just to be a people pleaser. If something would add unnecessary stress to your work life, find a polite way to say no and suggest a compromise if possible.

Schedule self-reflection

It can be easy to get swept up in work and forget about the bigger picture. Schedule regular time slots where you can reflect on your progress, as well as your wellbeing. Practising mindfulness can be a great way to encourage this self-reflection.

Keep your work and personal life separate 

If you work from home, consider designating a room or area in your house purely for work. Then, when your work day is over, there is a physical separation between work and leisure. Try not to answer work-related emails and calls outside of your working hours.

Consider outsourcing

Self-employment doesn’t have to be a one man show. If you have established a specific weakness within your business, it could be you need someone else to help out. Freelancing websites can be a good place to start.

Ask clients for feedback

Just because you work for yourself, this doesn’t mean you won’t be working with other people along the way. It never hurts to ask for feedback, and you may hear suggestions that you hadn’t thought of yourself. This can then be taken onboard to improve future work.

Talk to people who care about you

Your health and wellbeing come first. If things start to get too hectic, make sure to talk it through with someone close to you. It will only damage your work and your health to keep things bottled up.

Accept the hard truths

Being your own boss means there’s no one else to blame. Take accountability for your mistakes and continue to work on yourself. Know that sometimes you might have to put in extra effort and hours - know your goals and decide whether it’s worth it or not.

Be reliable

It can be tempting to slack when you know there’s no one looking over your shoulder. Behave how you would in any workplace and stick to deadlines and produce high standards of work. You may not get a telling off from a manager, but there will always be consequences.

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