As a leader, you’re responsible for setting strategic goals for your team and helping to manage their professional development. But how well do you manage your own goals and development? The way you manage yourself can directly impact the way you manage others, which is why investing in self-leadership is critical to becoming an effective manager. Practicing self-leadership can help you to become more self-aware, productive, efficient and can help prevent burnout. Check out these easy three tips to help you become your own best manager.
Organize and Prioritize
It sounds simple, but organizing your desk, your inbox and your calendar every day will help you be more productive. First thing in the morning, check your email and calendar and make a to-do list. Then, remember Mark Twain’s famous advice: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” Basically, this means to prioritize your to-do list by handling unpleasant, but necessary, tasks first thing in the morning. Once those are out of the way, your mind is free to handle other projects without those daunting chores looming over you.
At the end of the day, clear out the clutter. File away any important papers on your desk and toss what you don’t need. Then, clean up your inbox by responding to any important emails, forwarding ones that you can delegate to a team member, filing emails that you may need to reference later and deleting what’s unnecessary. Clearing out today’s clutter will make it easier to prioritize your tasks tomorrow.
Learn Something New
When you stop learning, you stop growing, and both you and your team will suffer from a stagnant leader. Learning new skills helps keep your mind active and helps you come up with new, fresh ideas. Many companies encourage training and will pay for employees to attend conferences or workshops to enhance their skills. Check with your HR department to see if your company offers training or reimbursement programs for attending classes.
You don’t have to limit your learning to new professional skills, though. Take a cooking class, learn a new language or try out a new hobby. Trying something you’ve never done before gets you out of your comfort zone and helps activate your mind in a new way. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, try learning something new to get your creative juices flowing again.
Take a Break
There’s a certain sense of pride in being busy. The ability to say you work long hours, nights and weekends is like a badge of honor. But that badge may actually be hurting your productivity and even your health. There is an abundance of research showing how overworking can cause increased stress and fatigue as well as decreased concentration and problem-solving abilities. A good manager needs to have a clear head and sharp decision-making skills, which means you have to take a break once in a while. You’re given vacation days and weekends for a reason, so use them. At the very least try to unplug one day a week – no email, no phone calls, no work-related conversation. If you can swing it, take a vacation. A simple change of scenery can clear the fog and refresh your mind. You will be a better leader and a more productive employee if you take some time to unwind.
Remember, managing others starts with managing yourself. Practicing self-leadership can not only help make you a more effective manager but can even help you learn to enjoy your job and your life a little bit more.