Everybody faces challenges in managing certain aspects of their lives. Someone who loves to go trail riding on a bicycle will have no problems motivating themselves to exercise. However, putting aside time to sit and read might be problematic. On the other hand, the reader might have problems putting down the book and getting active.
This self-management checklist can be applied to any area of your life where you need to gain some control.
- Set specific goals. You can’t measure achievement if you don’t know where you’re going. Set specific goals such as: I’ll walk for 30 minutes per day; or I’ll write a 1,000 words each day; or I’ll lose 20 pounds.
- Set specific times. You need to determine when you are going to accomplish your goals. Work with specific times; whether it’s a deadline for a one-off project or regular times for on-going behaviour.
- Track your progress. Write it down. You can use a journal, a calendar, a graph or any other form that works for you. Make sure you track both your successes and failures so you can refine your systems.
- Set rewards or penalties. You’ll need some motivation to help you move forward. Set small rewards to mark the completion of small steps. Set larger rewards to mark major accomplishments. You might even set penalties for not reaching goals. You could, for example, make a donation to a food bank every time your weight went up instead of down.
- Take small steps. If you’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten years, don’t try and run a marathon tomorrow. Changing a habit takes time and you need to start slowly.
- Break it down into pieces. Regardless of your readiness, if the task seems overwhelming, you may never get started. Break down large tasks in to small, logical and manageable pieces.
- Monitor time increments. Use a timer to help you stay on track. Set it to the best interval to help you measure your progress.
- Share your goals. Telling someone what you hope to accomplish can add another level of motivation. It’s easier to fool ourselves than to fool others. Tell someone what your goals and your deadlines are; get them to check on you to see if you met the goal.
- Have a work buddy. It’s not just enough to share your goals with someone, you need to have a buddy that can meet with regularly. Keep your goals on someone else’s agenda. This should give you an added sense of responsibility and motivation to reach your goals.
- Review with your buddy. Have your buddy do more than review accomplishment. Review the written track of your regular progress. They might spot patterns you don’t see and give you some help for getting back or keeping on track.
- Eliminate distractions. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help you read three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage.
- Review and rework your system. Your self-management plan may not work the first time you try it. There will be times when your self-management process falls apart. These steps are not static, but need to change and grow with you. Make time to review your process and see what changes can be made.
Some people look at self-management techniques as cumbersome, getting in the way of productivity. The truth is, if you look at successful and productive people, you’ll find some type of system guiding them. Give it a try.
It may come as a surprise to you to find out the negative opinion of yourself is coming from you. Pay attention to the things you tell yourself and others, and then cut the negative attitudes that hold you back.
Stop the negative talk
We tend to tell ourselves more negative things than positive. With regular practice, you can identify negative thoughts and self-talk and then take steps to change them to positive thoughts, before they get a chance to interfere with your choices and actions. Each time you find yourself thinking negatively, you can say ’stop’ and force yourself to rationally replace that thought with something positive and helpful. The exercise will feel unnatural at first but the more you do it, the more it will become an unconscious habit. As your faith in yourself and your qualities increases, so will your positive thoughts.
Instead of focusing on the problems, look for solutions.
I’ve said it a million times, don’t exaggerate! How often have you said something like, “I have a ton of work to do this week?” Even if you process 1,000 sheets of page this week, you won’t have done much more than ten pounds worth of work. Keep a reasonable perspective on the things you have to do.
Stop “should-ing” all over yourself
Have you ever noticed how many times you say the word should? Should is one of the most commonly used words for some people. I should call so-and-so. I should go to the gym. I should take another courses. I should redecorate my living room. Shoulds show up all the time. And most of us aren’t even aware that they are there.
Start paying attention to when and how often you say the word should. Anytime you find yourself doing something because you feel you should, explore why you are doing it. Say no to the shoulds and replace them with things you want to do. Banish the word should from your vocabulary.
The problem with too much worrying is that it spoils our day and robs us from living an enjoyable life. Since sometimes we cannot but entertain some worries in our mind, you can then apply some of the tips that can help you overcome them and be able to enjoy your day.
Once you start worrying about something it can quickly grow. It can often be challenging to keep small worries from becoming huge. One way to achieve this is working out the real odds. For example if you worry a great deal about flying, know that plans land and take off safely, every second somewhere in the world. Flying is actually very safe. I wouldn’t suggest looking up any statistics about a current worry, as that is only going to feed it. But after that worry is put to rest, it can be helpful for next time if you know that the chance of that thing actually happening is quite low.
I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t start keeping a journal until later in my life. I had regarded writing in a diary as being too self-absorbed. However, once I overcame the perception and got started, I quickly discovered the benefit and pleasure that came from keeping a journal.
However, it’s not always easy to keep a journal. We tend to side-track the process with self-imposed limits. We feel we don’t write well enough; our lives aren’t exciting or glamorous enough to document; and so on.
The thing is, there are no rules or limits on how to keep a journal. Here are some tips that can help you get started and get the most out of keeping a journal.
- Write the date at the top of the page.
- Include the time, location and weather for each day’s entry.
- Leave space at the top, so you can go back and give the entry a title, once you’re finished.
- Find the format that suits you best: loose-leaf binder, cheap notebook, Moleskine, leather-bound diary, all can work.
- Find the time that works best for you: first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
- Find the place that works best for you: the quiet of your bedroom, in a public coffee shop and so on.
- Find the writing tool you are most comfortable with: a pen, pencil, marker, coloured pencils or other writing instrument.
- Don’t be concerned with grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Write so that you get your thoughts out as quickly as possible.
- Write as often as you can. However, don’t pressure yourself to write daily. The more often you do write, the better you will become.
- Draw, sketch, doodle instead of writing.
- Use lists to kick-start your writing. “The 5 best things about today were…”
- Keep special mementos in your journal: event tickets, photographs, flower petals, etc.
- Let your feelings out. You can keep a journal which merely records the events of your life. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can add to its benefit by recording how you felt about what was going on.
- Talk about a significant moment in the day
- Write from your heart for yourself. This is a place to be honest with yourself. Write about the way you feel, not the way you think you should feel.
- Although you should write for yourself, if you feel like you need an audience – Pretend you’re writing a letter or note to a trusted family member or friend.
- Enjoy your journaling! Keeping a journal should not be a grim chore. If you see it that way, you’re not likely to keep it up for too long. Approach it in the spirit of creative play; an enjoyable, quiet-time gift to yourself.
Journals can be effective tools in helping one get organised, in the creative process, or in developing a new habit or skill. However, keeping a journal is a habit in and of itself and can be developed.
- The journal meme! (newkidonthehallway.typepad.com)
- DIY: Journal (doityourselfathome.wordpress.com)
- Personal Journal (ixsaints.wordpress.com)
- The Beauty of Journaling (theblessedexpedition.com)
Encouragement goes straight to the heart. In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix “en” which means “to put into” and the Latin word “cor” which means heart. Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others “to take heart” when things get tough or you want to acknowledge a job well-done?
The following tips were handed out at a meeting I attended. The sheet had no attribution , but I believe they came from this post by Dave Cheong.
- Take an interest. I believe this is one of the most effective ways of encouraging others. Show that you’re interested in what they’re doing. Get them talking. People like to talk about themselves and once you get them talking, you fire up their enthusiasm.
- Acknowledge what’s important. When you acknowledge what’s important to another, you provide validation about who they are and what they’re doing. Whether we admit it or not, each of us craves acknowledgement. Affirmation fuels confidence and self-esteem.
- Acknowledge a job well done. Worthwhile accomplishments take time and effort. You can encourage by acknowledging someone’s effort. A simple “well done” or “thank you” can have a strong effect, which can make the difference between going on or giving up.
- Show your appreciation. It’s common courtesy. Thank someone when they do something for you. Thank your partner after they cook a nice meal. Thank a friend for lending you a book. A simple thank you lets others know what they have done is meaningful to you.
- Return the favour. If someone does something nice for you, show your appreciation by returning the favour. This should not be seen as an obligation, nor as a contest. You’re not trying to top the other’s contribution, but to express what their actions mean to you.
- Do something unexpected. This is a step beyond returning the favour. Respond with something unexpected: out of the blue. Such a response has a strong impact and can reach others at an emotional level.
- Ask for advice or confide in them. Haven’t you felt important when someone asked for your advice or confided in you about something important? Didn’t you find you were energised and eager to help. Taking someone into your confidence can motivate them to show your faith in them is well founded.
- Lend a hand. Waiting for someone to ask you for advice is passive. You can take the initiative by offering to lend a hand. If a person sees you are willing to commit your time and energy to their interests, they will be more committed to seeing it through and less likely to give up.