Establishing self-management skills to keep motivation alive

If there’s one complaint I hear over and over again from small business owners it’s this: “I have so many responsibilities that most of the time, I don’t even know where to start!”

As a member of a small team, I can empathize with the emotion that this complaint dredges up. You feel like you’re stretched in ways that you’ve never been stretched before and it can be incredibly uncomfortable. Some days you don’t want to get out of bed to face the day because so many priorities and responsibilities are staring you right in the face saying “CROSS ME OFF YOUR LIST!”

We talk a lot about priority management on this blog and about how to handle procrastination. Here’s a summary of what we’ve covered:

  1. If you are currently procrastinating, you are doing so so because you can’t sort out what’s of highest priority.

  2. If you can’t sort out what’s of highest priority, it’s because you haven’t figured out what’s of highest value to you.

  3. If you don’t know what’s of highest value to you, you haven’t figured out what you ultimately want which is what will help you establish your goals and shape your values.

Here’s the good news. If you’re procrastinating you at least know what your starting point is to get you over the hump and on the way to tackling your priorities: figure out what you want.

Here’s the news that needs some work. Figuring out what you want may sound simple enough, but it can be a deep challenge in and of itself. You have to ask and answer questions that explore why you do what you do. You also have to figure out whether or not you have any fear or doubt that you can ultimately accomplish what you need to accomplish in order to get what you want.

Figuring out what you want and breaking down the limiting beliefs you have about the likelihood of getting it will open up a channel through which you can consistently pour motivation to keep yourself from procrastinating in the future. What follows in today’s post are self management skills that you can build into your routine to help keep your motivation alive.

You should know before you build these self management skills into your routine that it’s best to have laid some groundwork off of which to base these skills. These skills will hardly be useful if you haven’t figured out what you want and committed wholeheartedly to seeing what you want become your reality. If you still doubt whether or not you will ultimately accomplish what you want to accomplish or if you still fear you may fail, then you have not committed wholeheartedly to getting what you want out of your business and/or life.

You are the only person who truly knows whether you believe fully in your own power to accomplish your dreams. If you know you have doubt or fear that’s compromising your ability to get what you want, take a good hard look at those emotions and figure out how you can shift or reframe them to serve you in getting what you want. Once you’ve shifted them, come back to this blog post to see what supervisory skills you can put into your daily routine to maintain this focus on what you want.

Self Management Skills to Keep Motivation Alive

The skills that follow are what can separate you from your peers who are just following the status quo. There is nothing wrong with the status quo, but if you have a high standard for what you want out of life, then you know the status quo won’t work for you.

Skill 1: Ask more of yourself - even if it’s just a little more

I have a pretty high standard for what I want out of my job and business. So, every evening when I’m finishing work for the day, I ask myself, “How can I leave my work in the best stopping point for me to be the most productive tomorrow?”

Usually this entails 10 - 20 minutes more work, but I am doing this additional work because I understand it is benefitting me. If I instead ask “What work can I do right now that requires the least amount of focus and energy?” I would come up with an answer that doesn’t benefit me in the long term. While my short term focus at the end of a day of work is to relax and recharge for the next day, I know I can muster up another 10 - 20 minutes worth of effort to feel better prepared.

When you feel you have reached the end of your energy rope, dig a bit deeper to find out what energy you have left to get more from yourself the following day. If you know that this is serving the future you and moving you closer to what you want, you’ll find it easy to tap into that extra energy to move you closer to it. If you don’t find it easy to tap into, you may still not be fully committed to what you want.

Please know that I’m not saying there is not a “stopping point” to you daily work. Of course there is! I’m saying that we will often call it quits when there’s still a little bit left in our well. If we instead push through, focusing on how tapping what’s left in the well will propel us toward what we want, we’ll get more out of ourselves every day without exhausting ourselves on tasks that don’t benefit us long term.

Skill 2: “Make your bed” with passion

This sounds silly, but the benefits of making your bed everyday are astounding. The top benefit for me of making my bed everyday is that it makes me a little bit more organized in every other area of my life. It also is a low-effort activity that makes my room look much cleaner which lowers my stress and helps me think more clearly.

Making my bed is a touchstone of my day that leads me into a productive routine of looking at everything and asking “can I help to make this clearer?” Making your bed is also great because the habit has a predictability about it like when you’ll do it, how long it will take, and how you’ll feel afterward.

This is hardly the only thing you can do day to day to act as a touchstone for a boost of accomplishment and organization. Many people do the same thing with making sure their inbox is clear at the end of every day. Others will make sure everything on their desk is put away and in its proper place before shutting down for the day.

Find a touchstone habit that you want to foster that will help bring you focus and a sense of being organized. Once you find it, intentionally do it with a sense of passion and purpose, knowing how it is fostering a sense of organization and calm in other areas of your life as well.

Skill 3: Condition yourself to praise yourself for taking steps toward getting what you want

Once you’ve figured out what you want and gotten clear on your priorities, you will immediately start taking action that will move you along your path. The only thing that will knock us off our path from here is feeding into thoughts that we’re not making progress.

In order to protect yourself from this unwanted companion, figure out how you will reinforce and assure yourself that you are indeed making progress.

This might take the form of a time management worksheet where you write down what you plan to accomplish that day, how long you’ll spend on it, and why that’s important to reaching your goal. Or you might keep a post it note stuck to your computer with critical questions to ask yourself when you start to doubt that what you’re doing presently is helping you reach your long term goals.

Once you’ve assured yourself that what you’re doing is solidly on your path, go ahead and offer yourself some praise. Indulge in a bit of day-dreaming about how great it is going to feel to really reach your goal and tell yourself that you are proud of the hard work and effort you are putting in toward that end.

Without learning to praise the effort, we will forget how crucial it is to getting what we want and we will eventually become resentful of all the effort we have to put forth. Condition yourself to praise it.

So there are 3 solid skills you can start employing today to have better self-management over your routine. And if you feel like you are spending too much time returning missed calls to fill up your appointment book, we could add a 4th one to the list and suggest you get a free web scheduler to help you out.

Now I’d love to hear from you! How is your self-management? Do you have any good habits that help you solidly manage your time to move you to your goals? Any habits you are working to change or improve? Let us know in the comments below.