Self-Management: What It Is and How to Master It 🥇

  • Remote Working & Freelancing
Contra Tips
· 7 min read

Find freelance success with self-management! Embrace autonomy, stay focused, and achieve your goals as an Independent with these helpful tips and tricks.

As a freelancer, you’re charting your own course when it comes to your career. But with great freedom comes even greater responsibility, and self-management is the compass you need to successfully navigate this exciting new world. 

Below, we’ll shed some light on the importance of developing strategies for self-management for Independents. Think of it as your secret weapon for building a thriving freelance business. From practical advice on being your own boss to innovative techniques for getting the job done (and done well), these are the tools you need to make your mark.

What is self-management? ✨

Self-management means the conscious ability to regulate and control one’s behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. This is personally and professionally beneficial, as it helps ensure your behaviors align with your goals. This vital skill set enables freelancers to maintain focus, prioritize tasks, and navigate the challenges of being an Independent. 

Developing self-management requires discipline and willpower. You must stay on top and in control of all aspects of your life, from time management and financial planning to decision-making and self-motivation. 

Mastering self-management helps freelancers harness their autonomy, which is a massive benefit of working for themselves, and create a solid foundation for long-term success. 

Why is self-management key to freelance success? 🔑

Self-management is the backbone of a sustainable and thriving career as an Independent contractor. Honing these skills allows freelancers to unlock their full potential, paving the way for career development and achievement. 

Here are a few key reasons why excellent self-regulation is indispensable:

It’s motivating ✊

Mastering self-management keeps you driven and focused. Being driven and focused helps you do your best work while working remotely, which is a struggle for many Independents, especially those who are freelancing as a second job. Self-management helps you set clear goals and maintain a strong work ethic to perform at your best.

It fosters emotional intelligence 🫶

When considering self-management, emotional intelligence, which is the ability to understand and regulate emotions effectively, plays an important role. Working on this skill, in turn, enhances your emotional intelligence. Increased emotional intelligence enables you to empathize with clients and maintain healthy professional relationships, both of which are essential for long-term success.

It enhances decision-making ✅

Self-management helps you make better decisions, especially when under pressure or in a challenging situation. Staying calm and focused enables you to navigate the ups and downs of freelancing with confidence and resilience, keeping you on track in the face of any obstacles you encounter.  

5 examples of self-management skills 🪄

Excelling as a freelancer requires strong self-management skills that help you stay on track. From motivation to organization and beyond, these skills focus on personal responsibility and help you develop the ability to set goals (and achieve them). 

Become a more effective, successful Independent by prioritizing on the following: 

Organization 📓

An organized freelancer easily manages multiple projects and clients, avoiding confusion and missed deadlines. To boost your organization skills, create a system for tracking daily tasks, deadlines, and client communications using project management tools or a planner. Staying organized applies to your time, physical space, and energy. 

Decision-making 🤔

Making informed decisions quickly and efficiently is crucial in the fast-paced freelance world. There are a few ways to develop this skill; try practicing critical thinking, weighing pros and cons, and evaluating potential outcomes before making choices. For example, if you’re faced with simultaneous project offers, assess factors like payment, timeline, project scope, and interest to choose the best option.

Self-motivation ⭐

Self-motivation is having the ability and self-control to start (and finish!) tasks and avoid procrastination. Set clear, achievable goals and track your progress regularly to boost self-motivation. Celebrate milestones and learn from setbacks to remain driven. Try creating a vision board to visualize your goals and remind yourself why you chose the freelance path.

Time management ⏰

Managing your time plays a vital role in managing your overall self. While balancing multiple tasks and deadlines is a common challenge for Independents, you can improve your time management skills by setting priorities, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and allocating enough time throughout the day to work. Use tools like timers or productivity apps to stay focused and avoid distractions.

Accountability 👏

Being accountable for your thoughts and actions is another crucial freelancing skill. Cultivate your sense of personal ownership by setting realistic expectations, communicating openly with clients, and taking responsibility for any mistakes. For example, if you miss a deadline, own up to it, apologize to your client, and propose a solution to keep the project on track. 

Aligning objectives 👏

Boost your business’s success by setting goals that prioritize vital projects. Figuring out what benefits your business the most leads to better long-term outcomes.

Aligning objectives encompasses three primary skills:

  • Goal setting. Set appropriate goals by recognizing existing challenges, predicting growth targets, and assessing your current resource distribution plan. Make sure your goals are SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
  • Goal communication. Communicate your goals to your team (if you have one) and your clients. 
  • Goal monitoring. Tracking your goals is just as important as setting and communicating them. Regular monitoring allows you to track your progress over time.

5 tips for improving your self-management skills 💪

If you’re an Independent who wants to improve your self-management skills, these essential strategies and habits will help foster your personal growth and professional development. The following tips for effective self-management will help you thrive while doing what you love: 

Learn to establish boundaries 💌

Set clear boundaries between your work and personal life. This helps maintain a healthy work-life balance. Designate specific work hours and create a dedicated workspace to minimize distractions, maintain momentum, and maximize productivity during your workday.

Focus on what you can control 🚀

In freelancing, unexpected challenges and setbacks are inevitable. Instead of getting overwhelmed, concentrate on factors within your control, like your work quality, communication, and organization. This builds and maintains a positive, resilient mindset.

Practice self-care 🙏

Prioritize your physical and mental health and well-being by incorporating self-care and stress management techniques like mindfulness into your routine. A few additional factors are essential for feeling your best, like regular exercise, adequate sleep, and regular relaxation. Put yourself first to manage stress and avoid burnout. 

Learn to prioritize your time ⏳

Effective time management is essential for tackling your to-do list. Avoid multitasking, as it reduces productivity and increases stress. Instead, dedicate yourself to one task at a time and complete it before moving on to the next. Prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, and allocate appropriate time for each.

Connect with Independents on Contra 🤩

Self-management, the cornerstone of a thriving freelance career, empowers you to harness your autonomy and achieve your goals. By developing and refining the essential skills we outlined, you can build a successful business, guaranteed! 

To further your journey, visit Contra’s blog, The Contrarian, and join our vibrant community of freelancers on Slack. You’ll find articles on all things independent, and you can also connect with like-minded individuals to share experiences and stay up to date on the latest trends and news.

For clients seeking top-notch Independents, Contra is your go-to, commission-free platform. We’re home to professionals from all industries with excellent self-management skills, ready to help you accomplish your freelance goals. 

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