Most business owners struggle not because they don’t know how to do something. But because they don’t know what they should be doing day to day. A lot of business owners are reactive i.e. they respond to emails, phone calls and personal chores as they go through the day. What happens is you work a lot, but your performance or results are low. You’ve been busy doing things that don’t really get you anywhere.

Jose Mourinho (Ex Man Utd Football Manager) was once asked, was hard work the key that made him successful, his response was working smart as well as hard is the key.

What Is Self-Management System?

A self-management system is an easy way of planning your day so that you know what needs to be done every day. It stops you from waking up in the morning and trying to figure out what you need to do. You’ll wake up fresh, ready and motivated to tackle the day. And ultimately produce results that will impact your business.

Without a self-management system, you’ll most likely work on the wrong things. Which will cause you to burn out. You’ll have days where you felt busy but didn’t get anywhere. Almost like running on a treadmill, but you don’t burn any calories and don’t get anywhere. Yet you still feel exhausted and tired. And when you don’t see the results, it’ll demotivate you to the point that you give up. 

Before we create your self-management plan, let’s look at 5 things high performers do.

  1. Know exactly where they’re going –  When you go on holiday, you know your exact destination. If you’re not clear on your destination, you’ll never get there. You can fill out the destination plan here to help you clarify your vision.
  2. Get Focused – if you can’t deep work i.e. work without getting distracted, then your chances of success are reduced hugely. You need to be able to switch off for up to 4 hours a day from all distractions. Break it down into 20 – 40-minute periods with breaks and water. Or 90 minutes with 15-minute breaks. And you’ll start seeing a huge improvement in your business.
  3. Leverage automation and people – you can’t do everything yourself. Automate certain tasks to save time. For example, using Wave Accounting for bookkeeping will save you hours every month. It’s not only easier and quicker, but it’s also free. This is working smart.
  4. Setup your schedule – the difference between a job and your own business is in a job you know what you must do throughout the day. In your own business, no one tells you what needs to be done. Set up your schedule so that you control your day. You know what needs to be done. The system below will help you with this.
  5. Use Tools – to manage your tasks. You’ll always get distraction and interruptions. So, it’s a good idea to have a dynamic system for managing your tasks. 

Systems of a High-Performer

Here are four systems you need to have in place to become a high performer.

1 – Daily Self-Management Session

Do this every morning before you start your day and start getting disturbed. Take time to answer the following questions and reflect.

  1. What are you committed to right now? (This week’s goal.) 
  2. What are you most excited about right now? 
  3. What are three new things for which you are grateful? 
  4. What are yesterday’s top three accomplishments? 
  5. Prioritize: 
    1. Review your quarterly plan (which will be explained later). 
    2. What are the top five things you are most concerned about completing right now? (see the weekly tasks and select up to 5)
    3. Which one thing from the list would bring the most satisfaction if you completed it today? 
  6. Choose one item from the list above and make that your focus for the day. 
  7. Take 20 minutes to think about the problems you need to solve. 
  8. Set up your calendar for the day to include time to accomplish your one most important thing from above.

2 – Personal Delegation Plan

This is especially important if you find yourself overworked. First, get an understanding of exactly how you’re spending your time by writing down all your work activities. List down everything you do, daily and weekly.

Once you have your list, sort them into the sorter table below (skill and desire axis):

  • Any task that requires high skill, but you don’t enjoy doing, list them in the green box
  • Tasks that are a low skill and you don’t like doing, in the red box
  • Low skilled tasks but you enjoy doing, go in the orange box
  • And the high skilled tasks which you enjoy doing go into the blue box

Now that you have your tasks sorted, what do you do with it? 

First, delegate or systemise all the tasks in the red box. If there are many tasks here, it could be worth hiring a personal assistant or employee. Or maybe you can cut some out if they are not important. 

The second thing to do is a breakdown as much as the high skilled tasks into smaller low skill tasks. This way you can start to delegate or systemise more tasks. And will free yourself from more and more jobs.

3 – Time Blocking System

Any commitments you have during the day or week, you need to block it out on your calendar or schedule. Say for example, you have a client session every Thursday for 6 weeks between 11 and 12 pm. And you have the school run every afternoon between 3 and 4. You can block out these times and arrange your day around them.

4 – Task Management System

Do you prefer listing your tasks on paper or using an app? Whatever you prefer you need to have a system that will help you become more productive. This system is inspired by One-Minute To-Do List and Minute Manager.

Divide your time into 3 categories:

  1. Today’s tasks—the tasks that must be done before you go home today. Limit it to five items. 
    1. Review these throughout the day
  2. This week’s task—the tasks that must be done between the next day and seven days out. Limit it to 20 items. 
    1. Review every morning, select 5 to choose and if you need to subtract and add them on to the monthly tasks.
  3. This month’s tasks—the tasks that can be started greater than seven days from today.
    1. Review the tasks once a month. Again, you might need to promote some to weekly or daily.
Important Tip

When writing your tasks, be specific with what you’ll be doing. A bad example, ‘Make phone calls to clients’ instead write ‘Call John for initial consultation’ and then write down how long it’ll take. So, your list might look like something like this:

  • Call John for an initial consultation – 30 minutes
  • Write first draft blog post ‘7 ways to manage your time’ – 1 hour
  • Post on Instagram and Facebook – 30 minutes

You can see straight away exactly what your day will look like and how long you’ve allocated to it. In this case, you’ve three tasks that will take around 2 hours. Stating a time will keep you disciplined. It’s important not to lose track of time or get side-tracked. Once you start doing your tasks daily and consistently, your business will build and start growing.

Self-Management System Summary

You have four simple systems you can start using straight away. If you want your business to thrive and to stand out from the crowd, you must make an effort to stick to the systems and plans. Yes, it’s hard work at the beginning and it’s super easy to miss it out for the day because you have ‘more important things to do’. But this is where the difference between successful people and the rest really shows. They form habits that allow them to achieve the best. 

Follow these four systems; 

  1. Personal Delegation Plan – start here. After you do it once, you can go over it once a month or fortnight
  2. Daily Self-Management Session – every morning and integrate the two systems below
  3. Time Blocking System  – do this monthly, weekly or daily, when you know you have commitments, meetings, sessions etc, block out your calendar.
  4. Task Management System – Do this every morning as part of your morning session. Select the five things you need to work on today before you finish work.
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