The 3 essential areas of self-management in remote work
October 23, 2022
October 23, 2022
I had a conversation with Matt Levene the other day talking about everything work and productivity. During the conversation, Matt mentioned the term “self-management” that caught my attention.
Think about how good team management can contribute to the productivity of an organization — self-management plays a similar role to our personal performance.
As the world shifts to remote work, self-management becomes increasingly crucial in our day-to-day work and life. Suddenly we’re left on our own to manage ourselves. No boss to tell you what to do. No clock-in and out. No peer pressure. Nothing. It’s just you and your work.
It’s good news for people who want to work remotely, but bad news for those who haven’t learned to manage themselves well.
To help, I broke down self-management into three areas that I believe are the most essential. And offer some high-level tips and action steps you can take.
Most people focus only on time management because it’s easier to measure. But time management has its limitations:
Instead of measuring and managing your time, a better approach is to manage your energy.
There are many contributing factors to your level of energy at any given moment. I would suggest you first keep a pulse on the fundamentals. Ask yourself these questions:
These are the fundamentals to your energy level. I know how it feels wanting to optimize something that sounds more interesting: I tried to design new digital systems, test different tools and apps, experiment with new productivity hacks. They worked at first, but eventually all of them failed when I slept poorly or had a poor diet for a few days.
Optimally, you want to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep, exercise for at least 30 minutes, and keep a balanced diet—every day.
The work you put into maintaining good fundamentals also creates a baseline routine to give your day a solid structure to work with.
When you have your baseline routine in check, especially the fundamentals: sleep, exercise, and diet, now you can move on to the next step: manage your environment.
Our environment shapes us more than we think. The things and people around us impact our output, especially our energy, to great degrees. For example, research shows that people eat less when given a smaller plate and eat more when a bigger plate is being used.
The key reason this happens is because, under the influence of changes in environment, our brain does not behave rationally as much as we would like it to be. Instead, all of us fall into the same mental flaws and cognitive errors again and again. And often we make decisions unconsciously based on default or the triggers that are closest to us — in many cases, it’s our environment.
I usually break down the concept of managing my environment into two parts: 1) physical environment and 2) digital environment.
The goal is to manage and optimize them in a way that you can make better choices easily and take action quickly with little to no distractions. In other words, you still make decisions based on default but this time, you optimize the default to align with your goals by developing a winning environment.
You’re likely performing at your peak when you nail both the fundamentals and the environment. The last key here isn’t so much of a management, but more of having the awareness of how your mind works.
Managing your psychology can mean a lot of things. Here are a few things I have in mind now:
Mistakes can be a great teacher but others’ mistakes can be the best teacher.
It was tough when the world went remote suddenly when Covid hit two years ago. It changes how many of us work and many people still aren’t ready for it.
While many have gone back to the office, some prefer to adopt the new normal given the benefits of working remotely. But it also means we need to approach work with a new mindset and level up our skills in managing ourselves effectively.
As a recap, here are the three high-level steps to do just that:
Three to five things I learned—that will help you work less, earn more, and live a better life. (Also get notified of new posts and masterclasses)
👆 Join 3,100+ leaders, creatives, and knowledge workers today.
Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.
Head of product and engineering