Posted on by & filed under being awesome, leadership, productivity.

Today is the 3rd day I have sat down to write this blog post.  It was supposed to be published yesterday, and even though it is late I am still struggling to make progress.

This doesn’t normally happen to me. I am the person that gets their work done before it is due. I have also been known to write great blog posts in an hour or two. I am frustrated that this one isn’t finished already.

The heart of the problem though, is that I haven’t been managing myself well.

I have been distracted emotionally with negotiations to potentially sell Popforms.  I am sleep deprived because my little one has been sick the last 3 nights and wakes up crying every 1-2 hours. My schedule is out of whack because I have so many meetings this week – with advisors, investors, and my consulting work.  And with all that going on, I haven’t really been disciplined about setting up my days so I can be successful.

I know I need to work on my writing in the mornings, when I am more rested and most productive.  Yet, I didn’t set up my days to make that easy, and as a result this blog post is late.

Even the most experienced leaders need to check in with themselves regularly.  In this article I want to cover some strategies to help you be more effective at managing yourself.  As you read through this article, think about each one and figure out what you can be doing differently to be more effective.

#1 What can you do best?

We all have things that we do that play to our strengths. For me, I am great with strategy and setting direction. I love thinking about big picture and defining what comes next. When I am doing that sort of work I am at my best, and I enjoy it too.

Chances are, though, that part of your work involves things that may not come that easily for you. Maybe you aren’t naturally organized and tend to drop things if there is too much on your plate. For me, I always struggle with email and managing my communications.

In your work, there are things you are great at, and there are things you have to do that aren’t your strengths (or you don’t like doing). Ideally your job would be doing all things you were good at.

Putting it into practice:

If you think about your current workload, reflect on where you are spending your time.

Are there places where you can delegate things?

Are there skills or knowledge you need to be building to turn one of your weaknesses around so you can be more competent in your job?

By aligning the type of work you do to your strengths, you can be much more effective overall.


#2 Knowing your rhythms

We all work differently.  Some people are early birds, and others are night owls.  I know that I like to do my most involved work in the morning.  If I am coding on a project, or have to write something like this blog post, the morning is my best time.   It is when I am able to focus and get a lot more done.

If you understand the way your mind and body work, you can structure your days so you are able to produce your best output.

Putting it into practice:

This week, pay attention to your mood and energy level throughout the day.  When do you feel the most productive and awake?  When are you tired and need to take breaks?  That may be a good time to go grab coffee with a coworker or mentor.

What foods fuel your body best? Where are you when you do your best work?

Can you schedule your days to take advantage of your rhythms?

Try to structure your work in a way that it will set you up to do your best by reserving time on your calendar and planning activities that fit well with your state of mind.


#3 Charting the course

You can’t hit a target you can’t see.  Sometimes we work without really thinking about the end goal of what we are doing. We get drawn into what is urgent, or tactically on the forefront of our mind (or inbox!), without taking a step back and asking “is this the most important thing I can be doing right now?”

Having a list of priorities makes sure you stay focused on what is important.  For example our priorities at Popforms are:

  1. Supporting our paying customers
  2. Work for our current promotion (right now it is our workshop)
  3. Supporting our free customers
  4. Everything else

Having a personal system of priorities means it is always easy to answer the question of what I am supposed to do, and in what order.

Putting it into practice:

What is your list of priorities?  Write them out and share them with your manager to be sure that you are aligned.  Bonus points if you want to do this for your personal life too.


#4 How are you investing in yourself?

I am a big believer in self improvement. I like to think of my life as a series of lessons where I am learning something new all the time. Really successful people became that way because they continued to invest in themselves and their success.  They sought to learn from the best people, they read books, and they tried lots of things.

Are you investing time and money into yourself? If not, maybe you should be thinking about a course or seminar you could attend, hiring a coach, or even just reading a book or two.

Putting it into practice:

In order to get to where you want to go, it helps to have a plan. Write out your resume in 5 years. What do you want to have done in your career between now and 5 years from now?  What should you be doing to get there?  Identify what is missing, and schedule time on your calendar this week to make progress towards your goals.


#5 What are your triggers?

Whether you want to create a new habit or break an old one, the first step is knowing what triggers that habit. Triggers can be positive or negative, propelling us into action.  Managing yourself means knowing what sets you off in a direction, so you can control those factors.  If stress causes you to bite your nails, coming up with a solid backup plan to handle stress (that isn’t biting your nails) is the first step to breaking the bad habit.

Setting yourself up for success also means having backup plans for when things go wrong.  For example, I am trying to lose my baby weight, so if it is raining outside and I can’t go for a run, I will walk laps around my kitchen island, so at least I can get some exercise.

Putting it into practice:

Write down a list of your triggers.  How can you use them to your advantage? If there is a behavior you are looking to change, what sort of plans can you put in place to overcome obstacles in your path?


#6 Being creative and innovative

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had good ideas all the time? Being creative and innovative takes time and preparation.  When I go to write a blog post, I rely heavily on an evernote file where I keep a list of all kinds of titles, headlines, and articles I think would make good blog posts.

It is important to set aside time to do “more” than your normal role. “More” can mean reading more books, meditating, getting exposure to other industries, or just researching and learning about new ideas.  I wrote an article with tips to help you be more innovative that may give you some good suggestions.

Putting it into practice:

What can you do this week to help you be more creative? Is there something you could research or learn about?  A chapter in a book or blog post you can read?  Come up with at least 3 things you can do that involve growing outside your realm of expertise.


#7 Are you responsive enough?

Another key aspect of managing yourself is making sure you are available to the people who need you. This could be your teammates at work or your family at home. One part of managing your work and your time is making sure that you are giving other people what they need too.

A lot of us get really “busy” and this means that we don’t make the time for the people in our lives that are depending on us. And yet our relationships are one of the biggest influences over our happiness. If you are too “busy”, you are doing it wrong.

Putting it into practice:

Take inventory of the important relationships in your life. Make a list of your friends, your family, and your coworkers.  Now for each relationship, ask yourself if you are working on it enough?  Are you making enough time?  If you aren’t, then figure out how you can shift your priorities accordingly.


To be successful, it isn’t enough to just do the work; you have to be strategic about how you spend your time.  And that means managing yourself – your strengths, how you spend your time, and your values.  The 7 ideas above give you some suggestions and exercises to help you check-in and make adjustments.

If you have other strategies that have worked well for you in the past, go ahead and leave them in the comments.

Tags: better leader, change, growth, improvement, productivity, success,

3 Responses to “Managing yourself: 7 ways to be a more effective version of you”

  1. sylvain

    This very honest and inspiring Post was very useful for me. It made me rethink some of my priorites. I made a new plan
    Unfortunatly I am to far away to participate in the workshop. I wish you all the success you deserve ! Enjoy every moment.
    Thank you

  2. Kristina

    As a one-person show, I can sometimes use your articles as guidance for working with clients and vendors, so I LOVE that this one totally applies to managing ME. I’ve printed it out to mull over and work on…thank you!

  3. Shukri Abdullah

    Thanks for the fantastic post! I, too, struggled to get things done last week and over the weekend. This is such a wonderful refresher for me to take a step back and re-evaluate my decisions and priorities this week.

    p/s: I’m a new visitor to Popforms and I’ll aim to constantly visit this site. Thanks again :)