Personal management is about making a plan for your life. It involves setting short-term and long-term goals and investigating different ways to reach your goals. Education, training, and experience all help make your goals a reality. To meet your goals, you will choose the best path for you then commit to it. As you pursue your goals, you will need to stay flexible enough to deal with the changes, challenges, and opportunities along the way.
Personal management requires using information, communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and organization to manage your time, energy, and money. You will use your personal management skills in your personal life, your family life, and your work life. Management skills will also help you keep a balance between these three aspects of your life.
Time management means recognizing and solving time problems. When you don’t have enough time to do everything you need or want to do, it’s time to use your time management skills:
- Never put off what you can do now. Procrastination is the number one enemy of time management.
- Keep a single calendar of personal, family, and work events. A calendar makes it easier to manage conflicts and meet personal responsibilities.
- Schedule everything. Schedule your free time and even the time it takes to get from one place to another.
- Break large projects into smaller tasks and schedule each task. This keeps projects from seeming overwhelming.
- Minimize your personal time wasters. Consider the amount of time you spend engaging in electronic communication, watching TV, playing electronic games, hanging out with friends, napping, etc. While these activities provide relaxation and entertainment, they can make it harder to get other things done.
- Focus on the task at hand. Current research indicates that people are actually less productive when they multi-task.
Energy management involves making the most of your peak energy periods. Are you a morning person or a night person? Do you find yourself making unnecessary steps back and forth to complete a task? Do you feel tired at the end of the day even if you haven’t accomplished that much? If so, look for ways you can better manage your energy:
- Schedule important tasks when you have the most energy. Save easier, more routine tasks for times when your energy wanes.
- Think through a task before you begin. How much time will you need? What materials, equipment, and supplies will you need? What preparations should you make before you begin? What are the steps in completing the task? How will you handle interruptions?
- Organize your storage. Store materials, equipment, and supplies near their point of use. Store the most often used items within the circle you make when you raise your hands from your sides to your highest reach. Store heavy items close to the floor. Store lightweight items above your head. Store seldom-used items in hard-to-reach spaces.
- Use storage devices to keep related items together. Choose see-through containers or add labels to make stored items easier to find.
Money management allows you to get more of what you want in life. To reach many of your life goals, you will need money. Money management requires both planning and self-discipline. It puts you in charge of your money and does not allow your money (or debt) to take charge of your life. You can perfect your financial management skills by doing the following:
- Find out where your money is going. Save every receipt from everything you buy for one month. At the end of the month, record the amount spent by category. You may be surprised to learn where your money is actually going!
- Create a budget. This ensures that you meet your basic needs and obligations and makes it easier to reach your goals.
- Create income and expense reports. These allow you to see the bigger picture of your financial situation.
- Manage your personal finances as if you were managing a business. Avoid being too casual about your finances.
If you may feel that your life is out of balance, take time to check how you split your time and energy between work and the other important aspects of your life. Work-life balance requires a daily effort to make time for family, friends, community, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, exercise, recreation, and other activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace. Achieving work-life balance reduces stress. If you spend most of your time on work-related activities and feel that you are neglecting other important components of your life, stress and unhappiness result. Achieving better balance enables you to pay the right amount of attention to all aspects of your life. Consider these ideas to find the work-life balance that’s best for you:
- Track your time. Keep a record of how you spend your time each day for a week. Decide what’s necessary and what satisfies you most. Eliminate or delegate activities you don’t enjoy or can’t handle. Consider sharing your concerns and possible solutions with your employer or others.
- Consider your options. Ask your employer about flex hours, a compressed work week, job sharing, telecommuting, or other scheduling flexibility. Having more control over your work hours will cut the stress you feel.
- Manage your time. Record family events on a calendar and keep a daily to-do list. Focus on what you need to do and don’t worry about the rest. Organize household tasks efficiently. Making your bed and tidying the bathroom each morning, filling the dishwasher and wiping countertops after meals, and straightening living areas before bedtime keeps your home presentable. Batch errands or consider doing a load of laundry every day to protect your day off.
- Learn to say “No.” Before you take on a new project or agree to take on one more responsibility, consider whether you have the time or energy, or want to do it. Remember, it’s OK to say “No.”
- Build a support system. At work, agree to cover for a co-worker and vice versa when family conflicts arise. At home, enlist family and trusted friends to help with household responsibilities or pet care when you need to work overtime or travel.
- Leave work at work. Because technology is available day and night wherever you go, you may need to consciously create boundaries to separate work from personal time.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, make time for daily physical activity, and get plenty of sleep. Set aside time each day for activities you enjoy, such as reading, meditation, or a hobby. Share activities such as dancing, hiking, or attending a play with your partner, family, or a friend.
Remember, achieving a healthy work-life balance is a continuous process as your family, interests, and work change. Periodically look at your priorities—and make changes, if needed—to make sure you’re keeping on track.