Get Better at Managing Your Life

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 6, 2011

In the business world, everyone wants to succeed and make names for both themselves and their companies. While we all want to be good at our jobs, we don’t all know how to manage our lives proactively to make it happen. For small business owners in particular, applying small steps to your everyday life can help good habit formation—habits that will ultimately play a role in your business success. Here are six basic management tools to help you prioritize, focus, act, make decisions, and learn daily:

1. Find your strategic fit. Strategic fit is the process of aligning yourself with your environment so you can flourish. People do best when they place themselves in situations that are compatible with their values and that give them the opportunity to succeed by playing to their strengths.

2. Manage by objective. This is the process of learning to prioritize your actions, to focus your time and energy on your overall goals, and to measure your results every day. To manage your life by objectives, you need to set your objectives each day, based on your long-term goals. Then you work daily to achieve those objectives by moving toward your goals.

3. Make tasks easier by ‘chunking.’ Chunking allows you to take a large task and break it down into bite-size chunks that are not as overwhelming. By chunking, you break down each task into achievable component parts and take small steps toward success by accomplishing the chunks.

4. Use risk/reward decisionmaking. You have and will always have choices in your life. Risk/reward decisionmaking is taking into account the potential positive and negative outcomes and implications. It is weighing the potential good versus the potential bad.

5. Use mental rehearsal. Mental rehearsal prepares you to achieve your task. Learn to think about how to accomplish the task at hand: running your business. Whether it is mentally rehearsing a task, a phone call, or a meeting, you need to think about what you want to accomplish.

6. Replay your actions. Once you have acted, stop and critique your performance as a small business owner. What could you have done better? What can you learn? You must learn to critique yourself fairly and frequently. That is how you learn.

Edward D. Hess
Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Va.

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