Motivation and self-organization: why is managing your condition the primary soft skill?

In modern competitive realities, you need to be “on constantly,” remain in the resource and combine many “soft skills.” Read How to tell a child what soft skills are. Unlike hard skills (little professional knowledge), these skills are cross-functional and needed regardless of whether you work as an analyst in a consulting company or launch your startup. According to a study conducted by scientists from Harvard, Stanford, and Carnegie, 85% of success in any profession depends on the level of development of your soft skills and only 15% on “hard skills.”

Let’s look into the primary “soft skill” of any person, which is beneficial not only in work but also in studies and personal life — self-management.

Self-management means being your friend, not your enemy

In psychology, it is self-regulation. In the business environment, it is self-management. Self-management is organizing yourself, your time, and resources and overcoming internal barriers. So the ability to manage oneself is a vital quality of a person that is a predictor of success.

Many say they want to start a new life and radically change their career trajectory. The first step is already a big part of success. But a willingness to change is not enough, it is only enough for the first time, and then life happens: the cat gets sick, summer has come — the mood for study is gone, and that’s it, the person no longer has enough time for anything, and he abandons his original goal, deviates from the path of life that I have set for myself.

Only those who see the goal understand why they need education and see how and what needs to be adjusted in themselves to change their lives for the better successfully. Therefore, it is not so important who you are — an entrepreneur, a cashier in a store, a top manager, or a teacher at school — the ability to recognize what factors can prevent you from achieving your goal and the ability to correct them, is necessary for any person to be a friend, not an enemy.

There is an opinion that self-management is necessarily about strict self-control and discipline. However, self-management does not mean getting yourself out of bed, scolding, and sitting at your workplace, but analyzing what exactly is stopping you and, like an excellent leader to yourself, finding resources that motivate you to solve problems. So this implies a whole range of qualities that help you redistribute your energy and direct it in the right direction to achieve your goals.

What are these qualities?

Self-analysis and the ability to choose a development strategy

One of the basic steps in improving your competencies is self-reflection, the ability to analyze your weaknesses and strengths and identify areas for development. In other words, choose the qualities you want to improve and determine how exactly you will “pump” them.

Start with the obvious — develop skills that “sag” the most. It’s similar to pulling the last camel in a caravan. You can develop strengths: choose a skill you are already good at and continue to improve.

Important tip: introspection is more complicated than it might seem at first glance. The critical element here is honesty, so lie to yourself and don’t try to embellish objective reality. The Test Menteora will help you with this:

Motivation (it can be different, but cannot be wrong)

Motivation can be perceived in different ways. On the one hand, it is readiness, interest, and involvement in some activities. For example, when we say, “I have no motivation to do something,” we mean that we have no interest in and involvement in a particular task. On the other hand, in psychology, motivation is the needs, interests, and desires that motivate us to a specific activity. There are such motivational factors as financial well-being, craving for recognition, or curiosity.

When a person knows what motivates him and builds his activity based on the need to satisfy his motivational factors, this indicates developed self-organization.

If you understand your motivational factors, you maintain internal stability despite unfavorable external conditions. Knowing your motivational factors will help you overcome the difficulties when your business goes through a difficult period. Suppose you are a social entrepreneur, and one of the leading motives of your activity is to benefit society. Then, in difficult moments, deliberately focus on those tasks in which your desire to benefit society is realized. For example, talk to grateful clients or employees whose lives have changed for the better because of you.

Advice. To understand yourself, write on a piece of paper in a row all the needs, interests, and motivational factors, and then arrange them in order of importance for you personally.

Knowing the main drivers of motivation, you will always be sure what you are doing or not doing. In addition, it will be easier for you to make decisions with this prioritized list.

For example, you determined that the main thing for you in your work is independence and the ability to make decisions on your own. In this case, it is customary to build your own business and not work as a top manager in an oil company. If stability and work-life balance are most important, you will not start your startup but choose a more reliable job with a clear schedule. Your actions will be motivated and understandable to you.

Important. Put several motivational factors in one row. Assign each factor’s serial number in your coordinate system. Determine your inner needs.

Managing your time

This skill is related to self-organization and primarily involves non-magical ways to increase personal effectiveness. You know which methods work for you and which do not. There is no such technique that would work equally well for each person, so self-organization is the ability to find what supports you.

In some cases, the problem of efficient time management can be solved by a convenient tool for fixing tasks (for example, Trello or a simple calendar). But sometimes the problem lies deeper, so there are whole systems of time management methods with step-by-step instructions for self-organization. Among them, several standard approaches work for almost everyone:

Method 1: Salami Slicing, or the “salami” method: break an enormous task into many small and understandable stages, like cutting a sausage, and completes tasks of equal volume, dividing them in time.

Scientists at the University of Michigan found back in 2018 that the multitasking that brands expect from their employees slows down productivity. And a University of London study found that multitasking lowers IQ to a level similar to that of sleep-deprived people or smoke marijuana. Therefore, by dividing tasks into blocks and completing tasks in turn, you will remain productive throughout the day and keep your brain healthy.

Method 2: Pomodoro is another technique that helps to focus on only one task for a long time and not be distracted. Italian student Francesco Cirillo invented it in 1980 to prepare for the exam and concentrate on his studies: he started a tomato-shaped kitchen timer for 10 minutes, during which he would not be distracted from the task and then took a break.

A tomato, in this case, is a 30-minute period, where you devote 25 minutes to work and 5 minutes to rest. After four such tomatoes, take a big break for 15-20 minutes, and then continue working for 25 minutes. A few of these “pomodoros” a day help focus and relax.

Method 3: “Eat the frog.” The name of this method was inspired by Mark Twain, who once said: “If you eat a frog in the morning, the rest of the day will be wonderful because the worst is over.” Brian Tracy suggests that the essence of the approach is to do all the most complex and unpleasant tasks in the morning and postpone everything else that comes easy to the afternoon.

The frog is that “vampire task” that takes away all your motivation to work, deprives you of drive, and spoils your mood. For example, you need to call someone unpleasant or get into poorly collected data that will inevitably have to be redone by analysts. If you put off that task, you will painfully remember it. Do this before others and save energy.