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Strategies for Self-Management

Learn self-management skills and strategies to better control yourself.

Do you find yourself getting easily overwhelmed by your inexhaustible to-do list? Have you been in a situation where your frustration led you to tears? Has there been a time when you wanted to start eating a better diet but struggled to follow the plan? If this sounds like you, don’t worry—we’ve all been there. Sometimes our thoughts and emotions can overpower our self-control and lead to what we wouldn’t consider to be our proudest moments. But that’s why we’re here to help you understand the importance of self-management and how to become more mindful and productive.

The practice of self-management includes being able to assess your priorities, manage your time, hold yourself accountable, follow through with the task at hand, and most importantly, maintain your well-being (Hackman, 1986). Many of us may struggle with procrastination from time to time, especially when it comes to school assignments or mundane tasks at work. But we may also deal with procrastination in our home life.

Without healthy self-management, we may find it difficult to complete simple tasks (or big projects), achieve our goals, gain personal and professional growth, and take care of our emotional well-being.

Self-Management Strategies

Here are some self-management skills you may want to consider improving on if you haven’t already done so (Lorig & Holman, 2003; Grady & Gough, 2014).

  • Organization. Is your workspace messy? Do you find yourself having random sticky notes all over your home? When you’re at school, do you struggle to find a pen or pencil instantly? Organizing might sound like a tedious process, but being organized can support your efficiency and productivity. It can also help you feel less stressed the next time you have a meeting you’re in a rush for and need to find the keys to your car.

  • Self-Motivation. As much as we want to be constantly motivated to do whatever we’re working toward, motivation usually ebbs and flows. This is why balancing work and rest is necessary. Self-motivation encourages us not only to take the initiative to work but to feel driven to accomplish tasks, too. Next time you’re feeling a bit unmotivated, you may want to reflect and find something that motivates you. Whether it’s the satisfaction of a job well done, being able to watch your favorite show after dinner, or treating yourself to a fun day at the beach, showing yourself appreciation for your hard work can help you feel motivated to continue reaching your goals.

  • Managing Time. Without understanding time management, it can be rather tricky to practice self-management. Some examples of time management may include creating a calendar that lists out all of your important events and meetings, having a weekly plan that you regularly update with your to-do list, or even just working on one thing at a time so that you can focus your energy on the task or event at hand without feeling overwhelmed.

  • Self-Care. If the goals of self-management are to better manage our thoughts, emotions, and actions so that we can thrive in our personal and professional lives, we cannot do this without taking the time to manage our stress, show ourselves appreciation, and incorporate rest and play into our hectic days. For example, have you ever found yourself working more than 40 hours a week while juggling family life and social obligations? More often than not, you may notice that your brain feels jumbled, and you’re having a hard time getting anything done. Self-care is an essential way to combat feeling overworked and stressed. Whether it’s setting boundaries at work by not taking your tasks home with you, getting in 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week, or eating some delicious food while spending time with your loved ones, any form of self-care can enable us to have a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

  • Regulating Emotions. A healthy practice of self-management is to learn to be in tune with your emotions. For example, do you get anxious before a presentation at school? Do you have a supervisor who drives you just a little bit nutty? Is there something at home or work that makes you feel a bit sad? While it may feel like a waste of time to process emotions and take time for ourselves when we feel down or upset, it’s crucial to understand how our emotions affect us before they manifest into something bigger. If you’re nervous about a presentation, consider asking a family member or classmate to help you practice. Feeling annoyed by something at work? Try having a conversation with your work team or journaling about it. Is something else making you feel down in the dumps? You may want to try focusing on your strengths to boost your self-esteem or perhaps chat with a friend to feel supported. Once we understand what some of our underlying emotions are, we can manage them better and thus refocus our time and energy back on what is important. ​


  • Grady, P. A., & Gough, L. L. (2014). Self-management: a comprehensive approach to management of chronic conditions. American journal of public health, 104(8), e25-e31.

  • Hackman, J. R. (1986). The psychology of self-management in organizations. American Psychological Association.

  • Lorig, K. R., & Holman, H. R. (2003). Self-management education: history, definition, outcomes, and mechanisms. Annals of behavioral medicine, 26(1), 1-7.

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