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16 Examples of Self Management

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Self-management is the ability to plan, direct and control your own efforts. This implies an ability to obtain goals in a constrained and competitive environment without anyone directing or leading you. Self-management may also be viewed in terms of improvement of your abilities, performance and character. The following are illustrative examples.

Goal Planning

The process of developing a set of goals and objectives. Self-management requires achievable and actionable goals that you can work towards now.


Identifying plans to achieve goals. For example, a snowboarder who wants to turn pro develops a plan to master a progressively more difficult series of tricks and maneuvers.

Planning & Scheduling

Organizing resources and time to implement strategy such as a snowboarder who plans to complete homework during their lunch break to be free to practice after school.

Time Management

Learning to make good use of time by improving productivity and eliminating waste. For example, a student who finds they are spending hours a day on social media, news and video sharing sites decides on a strict information diet to increase the amount of time they have to study.

Decision Making

The ability to make timely and reasonable decisions even if they are difficult and surrounded by ambiguity. For example, a parent who is able to commit to important work that involves painful opportunity costs such as missing an event at a child's school.

Problem Solving

The ability to solve problems in a timely manner including resolving the root cause of problems as opposed to addressing symptoms. For example, an interior designer who has problems with their laptop being slow and difficult to use dedicates time to researching alternatives, purchasing, configuring and customizing a laptop on a far more stable and secure operating system.


The ability to influence the actions of others. For example, an individual who is able to work with a large company to change the formulation of a sunscreen to remove an ingredient that may be a hazard to reef ecosystems. Self-management requires that your influence directly changes outcomes as opposed to aimless complaining and preaching.

Managing Expectations

The ability to say no to low value work to improve your productivity. In many cases, stakeholders such as a boss will try to give you work that is time consuming, low value, politically dangerous and/or impossible. Self-management implies that you have agency and can manage the expectations others place on you. For example, a business analyst given an impossible and pointless assignment who avoids the temptation to say "I'll try" but rather explains a more feasible approach.

Setting Expectations

Making your expectations of others clear to prevent miscommunication and give people every chance to perform. For example, a homeowner who sets quality and deadline expectations with a contractor before awarding any work.

Risk Management

Identifying, analyzing and treating risks such as a conductor of an orchestra who notices that a violinist has made several mistakes in practice. In order to treat this risk, the conductor spends time with the violinist to help them improve and teaches them a technique to quickly recover from a missed note.


The ability to deal with an environment of constant change. For example, a tenured professor who leads the change in their subject area as opposed to feeling threatened by it.


The ability to control resources such as a budget. For example, a student who knows they are trending above their monthly budget mid-month so they turn down an invitation to an event that sounds expensive.

Knowledge of Results

Looking at results to see if things are working and changing your strategy when you see evidence that it is not achieving anticipated results. For example, a student who switches majors in first year because they decide math isn't their strong point.

Knowledge of Performance

Self-management requires the ability to view your performance independently of results to correct weaknesses. For example, improving your public speaking by asking for critical feedback and watching videos of your presentations.


Developing your knowledge and abilities. This potentially includes formal education, training and coaching arrangements. It is also common for self-managing individuals to use self-study and challenging work projects to improve.

The ability to handle stress and problems without loss of motivation. For example, an athlete who knows who they are and where they are going such that they can't be angered or distracted by minor insults.


The following are common types of self-management:


Demonstrating autonomy, initiative, discipline and persistence in your work.
Definition: Self Management
Definition (1)
The ability to plan, direct and control oneself to achieve objectives in an environment of constraints and competition.
Definition (2)
The continued practice of improving ones thought processes and actions.
Related Concepts
Next:Self Direction

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