Self-management skills and how to improve them

Self-management skills and how to improve them
SEEK content teamupdated on 14 December, 2023

Self-management is an essential skill in any workplace, whether you’re a tradie working onsite, a barista at the roaster or a lawyer with your own firm. Being able to work autonomously, prioritise your own tasks and make confident work-related decisions are part of effective self-management.

With more companies adopting flexible work from home policies, there’s a heightened expectation for employees to self-manage. As a result, self-management in the workplace is an essential soft skill to master when it comes to professional development. 

Managing your own time effectively and setting your own goals are two self-management skills that drive workplace success. In this article we delve into exactly what self-management means, shed light on why it’s important in the workplace, and show you how it can be cultivated and applied across various projects and jobs.

What is self-management and how is it a skill?

The definition of self-management refers to your ability to manage your actions, feelings and thoughts productively and effectively. This skill is important in the workplace, directly impacting productivity, efficiency and collaboration. Some examples include:

  • Goal setting: setting clear, achievable goals gives direction and purpose. It involves identifying what you want to achieve, planning the steps to get there, and staying motivated throughout the process.
  • Organisation: being organised is more than just keeping a tidy workspace – though this can certainly help! It's about structuring your tasks, priorities and time in a way that maximises efficiency. This includes managing resources, delegating tasks where necessary and keeping track of progress.
  • Time management: effective time management means prioritising tasks, setting realistic deadlines and avoiding procrastination. It's about making the most of the time available to you.

Why are self-management skills important?

Self-management skills are more than simply nice to have; they are essential in the workplace. They show your ability to work effectively and efficiently in a professional setting, without constant direction. Here’s what hiring managers see when you showcase self-management skills on your resumé.


No matter where you work, the ability to juggle your workload, make informed decisions and achieve results without constant supervision is highly valued. It shows that you’re both reliable and capable of handling difficult tasks on your own. 

Problem-solving abilities

If you’re particularly good at managing yourself, then there’s a good chance you’re the type of person who can assess situations, identify problems and develop effective solutions. You’re great at thinking critically and creatively to overcome challenges and adopt a proactive approach to work.

Accountability and responsibility

People who possess strong self-management skills are more likely to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Being accountable means you own your successes and learn from your mistakes, which are both essential traits if you’re committed to continuous improvement.

Assessing your self-management skills

Are you wondering where you stand when it comes to self-management? Evaluating your skills is a self-reflective exercise that allows you to look at how you manage your time and workflow. Here are some tips to guide you through the process.

Review feedback

One of the best ways to assess your skills is by taking a look at any feedback you have received throughout your career. This might come in the form of performance reviews, comments from colleagues and advice from mentors. 

Reflect on your goal-setting practices

When it comes to both professional and personal management, consider how you set and work towards goals. Are they realistic and achievable? Do you break down large goals into manageable tasks? 

Evaluate your adherence to timelines

Are you consistently completing work on time or do you find that you’re often rushing to meet deadlines? Being able to manage time effectively is an important aspect of self-management. If you notice that you regularly procrastinate or miss deadlines, it might be time to develop stronger time-management strategies.

Examples of self-management skills

Once you’ve mastered self-management skills, you can use them in any industry or role. Whether in trades, hospitality or office environments, possessing these essential skills allows you to grow professionally, no matter your job. 


  • Time management: tradespeople often juggle multiple projects and deadlines. Effective time management, such as prioritising tasks and estimating time for each job accurately, is crucially important.

  • Adaptability: the ability to adapt to changing conditions, such as weather or supply issues, is vital. This involves adjusting and finding solutions to unexpected problems.

  • Self-motivation: tradespeople often work independently. Staying motivated, especially in physically demanding jobs, is a key skill.


  • Stress management: hospitality professionals, whether that’s a barista or a waitperson, often face high-pressure situations. Managing stress effectively ensures quality customer service and good decision-making under pressure.

  • Interpersonal skills: effective communication and relationship management are essential, especially when dealing with clients and team members.

  • Attention to detail: whether it's adhering to health and safety standards or ensuring customer satisfaction, attention to detail is critical.

Office environments

  • Organisational skills: the ability to prioritise tasks and keep your work ordered is essential.

  • Problem-solving: effectively identifying and overcoming problems helps keep work flowing smoothly.

  • Self-discipline: with the rise of remote work, self-discipline has become increasingly important. This includes managing distractions and staying productive, no matter where you’re working.

Using self-management strategies in the workplace

If you want to complete jobs successfully, your self-management skills need to shine in the workplace. Here are some practical strategies, along with examples, to help you get ahead.

Plan your day

  • Prioritise tasks: start your day by looking at all your tasks and ranking them in order of importance and urgency.
  • Break down projects: for larger projects, break them into smaller, manageable tasks. This can stop you from feeling overwhelmed and help keep your focus.
  • Allocate time wisely: assign specific time blocks for each task, along with time for breaks. 

Use your calendar

  • Note meetings and deadlines: sync all your calendars to keep track of meetings, deadlines and important events. Setting reminders can help you stay on top of your work.
  • Block time for focused work: mark some time for uninterrupted work, especially for tasks that require concentration. 

Arrive on time

  • Prepare the night before: organise everything you need for the next day – any equipment, your clothes, travel pass, lunch, etc. This reduces morning stress and helps you get out the door faster.
  • Account for travel time: consider traffic or transport delays, and leave a few minutes early to give yourself a buffer.

How to improve self-management skills

Improving self-management skills is a continuous process that requires dedication and practice. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your skill set, along with tools that can help.

  • Review your strengths: identify areas where you excel and areas that need improvement. Ask for feedback from colleagues, managers and mentors to gain different perspectives. Apps like Evernote or OneNote are useful for organising notes.
  • Make priorities: determine what is most important in your professional life and focus your efforts on these areas. Tools like Trello, Asana and can help in tracking tasks and projects.
  • Create deadlines: for each task or goal, establish a clear and achievable deadline. Tools like Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook can be used to set reminders for these deadlines.
  • Focus on one task at a time: avoid multitasking and focus on completing one task before moving to the next. Use tools like website blockers or do-not-disturb modes on devices to maintain focus. Apps like RescueTime or Toggl can provide insights into how you spend your time and help you improve your time management.
  • Evaluate your progress: set aside time weekly or monthly to review your progress towards your goals. Digital tools like MindMeister along with mind mapping can help in brainstorming and organising thoughts.

How to list self-management skills on your resumé

Effectively showcasing your self-management skills on your resumé can help you stand out in the job hunt. Here’s how to list these skills, along with examples and common mistakes to avoid.

Where to list these skills

Listing these skills in the right place on your resumé is key to highlighting them effectively. Here are three places where you might list your self-management skills. 

Skills section

Create a dedicated section for skills on your resumé. This is a great way to highlight your self-management abilities. Skills you can list include:

  • Time management: proficient in prioritising tasks and meeting deadlines consistently.
  • Goal setting: experienced in setting and achieving both short-term and long-term professional goals.
  • Adaptability: proven skills in adjusting strategies to meet evolving project requirements.

Work experience section

Integrate your self-management skills into the descriptions of your previous roles. Show how these skills contributed to your success in those positions. For example:

Managed a team of 10, coordinating schedules and delegating tasks, leading to a 20% increase in overall team efficiency.

Developed and implemented a new inventory management system, improving stock turnover by 30%.

Summary or objective statement

Briefly mention key self-management skills in your resumé’s opening statement, especially if they are particularly relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example:

Detail-oriented professional with exceptional organisational and time-management skills, seeking a challenging role in a fast-paced environment.

How to list them

  • Be specific: instead of vague terms, use specific skills that are relevant to the job you're applying for.
  • Use action words: start each skill or point with a strong action verb to make it more impactful.
  • Quantify achievements: where possible, quantify your achievements with these skills, using numbers or percentages.

Mistakes to avoid

When listing out your self-management skills, there are things you’ll want to avoid. These include: 

  • Being too generic: avoid generic phrases like “good self-manager” without providing specific examples or context.
  • Overstating your skills: be honest about your level of proficiency so you don’t set unrealistic expectations.
  • Lack of relevance: tailor your skills to the job description. Irrelevant skills might detract from your key qualifications.
  • Not providing examples: wherever possible, back up your skills with real-life examples or achievements from your work history.

Self-management skills are an invaluable asset in the professional world. They encompass a range of abilities that include time management, goal setting, adaptability and accountability. Whether you’re just entering the workforce or are an experienced professional, continuously improving these skills can open doors to new opportunities and growth.

Reflect on your current abilities, set realistic goals for improvement and utilise the various tools and strategies available. Each step you take is a step towards a more organised, productive and rewarding professional life.


What are the seven principles of self-management?

The seven principles of self-management are:

  1. time management, 
  2. adaptability, 
  3. stress management, 
  4. self-awareness, 
  5. self-motivation, 
  6. self-control and 
  7. decision-making. 

These principles contribute to effective self-management, helping you achieve success.  

How do I handle setbacks and failures in self-management?

Adopting a growth mindset is the best way to handle setbacks and failures in self-management. View these challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement. Reflect on what went wrong, identify lessons learned and adjust your strategies. 

Should you list self-management skills on your resumé?

Yes, you should list self-management skills on your resumé, especially if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. These skills demonstrate your ability to work independently, handle responsibilities and adapt to changing environments. Try to provide examples or achievements that show your proficiency in these areas.

How can self-management skills benefit my career?

Self-management skills can significantly benefit your career, by enhancing your productivity, efficiency and adaptability in the workplace. These skills enable you to set and achieve goals, manage time effectively and handle challenges with resilience. They also help you stand out to potential employers and can lead to better job opportunities, career advancement and overall job satisfaction.

More from this category: Workplace skills

Top search terms

Want to know what people are searching for on SEEK? Explore our top search terms to stay across industry trends.
Select an industry to uncover the top search terms

Subscribe to Career Advice

Get expert career advice delivered to your inbox.
You can cancel emails at any time. By clicking ‘subscribe’ you agree to SEEK’s Privacy Statement.