Update from the author: we’ve updated the information about the 7 skills to be current for 2023.
It may come as no surprise that being successful in work means making the most of opportunities, getting the hours in, and having a strong work ethic and direction. This goes for life too, but what’s less well-followed is the idea that all of these traits often come at a significant cost to your social life, as well as your mental and physical health.
Any detriment to these parts of your life can negatively impact all areas of your world, and therefore a focus on success should be about having a holistic and multi-supported approach to life management, rather than just hitting specific milestones. To best accomplish your goals, you need to be balanced; both organized and focused inside and outside of work.
Fortunately, there are some simple but effective habits that can help you achieve success in almost any area of your life. These ‘life management skills’ are straightforward, but they have an enormous impact on how happy, productive, and fulfilled you will be as an individual.
Life Management Strategies
It’s easy to get caught up in work or education and feel like it’s getting out of hand. When there’s no time to do all the things you feel like you should be doing, and you aren’t even meeting the goals for the things you’re distracted by, it can feel like certain aspects of your life are slipping away, and it might be time to employ some useful life management strategies.
Developing certain skills can happen very organically, and there are useful resources for these are readily available if you know where to look. Life management isn’t always intuitive though; it’s easy to get distracted by tempting, lucrative, or easy tasks and postpone more important ones. Building up a skillset around life management limits these disorganizations and keeps you on track to a well-rounded and balanced life.
Supplementing these skills with apps, organizers, and routines, you can tie your efforts into one another with ease. This means designing your strategy so that your social life supports your working life; your physical health contributes to your ability to think; and every element of your life is supporting the rest.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated: it’s enough to make the most of your commute by listening to a podcast, or studying with the Pomodoro technique to extend the duration of your productive focus. The important thing is tying your daily tasks together in a way that pushes you towards your goals without neglecting other areas of your life.
Being ‘successful’ is about much more than just hitting certain quantifiable milestones. It’s about thriving in all aspects of your life. Adopting these skills and making use of available life management resources allows you to build universal habits that can help you achieve your goals and satisfaction regardless of what you do for a living.
To do this, you need to dig deeper and find fundamental principles to work on – the success of which translate to overall satisfaction with all aspects of life. With that in mind, here are seven powerful life management skills that can help you tie your efforts to your goals.
Skill 1: Goal Setting
One of the most important skills in good life management is goal setting. Very few people actually make time to plan out what they want to do in life and how they’re going to do it. As such, the majority of people don't ever get what they truly want out of life.
It sounds obvious, but if you don’t know where you’re going, there’s not a high chance you’ll ever get there. Knowing what you want is the first step to reaching it, and this applies to much more than attaining progression in your work. It extends to success within your family, with your health, and in being the person you want to be for others. Ultimately, it leads to a more comfortable existence and living a fulfilled life.
No matter what field you work in or what you want out of life, it can be hugely beneficial to learn how to set goals. These landmarks give you something to work towards, allow you to design a specific plan (even if that plan is to maintain things as they are), and prevent you from being overwhelmed by the present.
The skill comes in creating goals that are clear and challenging enough to push you in your direction. Taking the time to lay out what you really want from each aspect of your life will help you articulate your dreams and allow you to form plans around them.
Goal setting keeps your life on track by forcing you to follow a well-defined game plan. A good life balance involves dealing with problems in the right order, persisting through difficult stages, and creating time in your schedule for the necessary steps; all of which can be set out in terms of your specific goals and how to attain them.
Skill 2: Planning
Once you have your goals, you need to know how to plan. This is another factor that affects the success and yet is so rarely practiced as a learnable skill. Planning gets better with practice, after trial and error, and streamlines your route to success.
While goal setting is about the future, planning is about the present. Planning involves creating the roadmap to your goals along the timeline that you’ve set for them. While some people may think that having goals in mind is enough to manifest them, it’s more likely that without a set direction, you’re liable to get overwhelmed and give up when you face challenges.
Planning helps you stay focused on what needs to get done. It involves setting up systems to make your life easier. Planning also ties into time management; for example, if you know that a task is long and complicated, it makes better sense to dedicate hours of work to it than to partition the workload by milestones.
A good plan incorporates steps that can overlap with other plans as much as possible. For efficiency, try to find common areas where multiple goals can be approached at the same time. For example, if you need to get more exercise and spend time with your family, book in regular outdoor activity to combine steps.
There are numerous planning strategies available, depending on your specific goals, but with life management, a good plan has to incorporate contributions to each of your goals without spreading yourself so thin that none of them gets the attention it deserves. This is where time management is a useful, complementary skill.
Skill 3: Time Management
You’ll never be able to do everything on your ‘to-do’ list. But you can manage your time so that you get the most out of each day, week, and month. Without good time management, you not only run the risk of missing deadlines and falling behind at work, but you’ll also struggle to get in time for the important things in your personal life and have a hard time balancing your efforts against your plan.
Time management isn’t about denying yourself pleasure and never taking a break – It’s one of the key components of a “work smart, not hard” mindset. Of course, working hard is should not be totally counted out as an option for achieving difficult goals, but there’s no smarter way to work than with a good set of time management skills and resources.
Time management mostly involves prioritizing your tasks in order of importance, dedicating time to them, and incorporating rest breaks, but a good interactive calendar or working timer is a useful tool to complement this.
If you’re planning to put in certain hours on a task, learn to dedicate that time in a quiet and concentrated manner. This is a skill in itself, as there are always distractions available to us; particularly in the home environment.
However, finding a good routine and sticking to it can be great for your productivity, and translates well into your relationships as it makes you predictable and available for others at certain times of the day or week. It’s important to remember that good time management incorporates all of the steps along each of your plans – including sleep!
Skill 4: Relationship Management
A mismanaged home life causes stress to those around you as much as it hinders your ability to work with a clear head. Relationship goals and their corresponding management strategies are a significant area of stress for those who don’t manage them well, and still a good amount of work, even for someone with a sense of direction in life.
As with everything else on the path to your goals, relationships need to have time dedicated to them. This can be tricky when there is so much going on, and it’s easy to miss certain important dates or appointments without good life management strategies. It can also be hard to quantify success in relationships, so they can often be overlooked.
One really handy way to keep in touch with people in the right way is to use CRM software.
A good CRM setup can allow you to pick up conversations where you left off and consolidate your relationships.
Dex holds onto all the important dates and pieces of information for you, prompting you to make contact or check in with your contacts. It also allows you to set reminders yourself for keeping people involved in your life and can integrate automatically with sites like LinkedIn, letting you know when your contacts get a new job.
Keeping up with your relationships will do amazing things for your overall wellbeing, as well as provide you with more opportunities for advancing towards your chosen targets. A well-managed social and professional network is a robust safety net and a healthy chance for opportunities to emerge that you are then able to take advantage of.
Skill 5: Physical Health
An often-overlooked and yet well-established connection in life management is that of physical health and wellbeing. It’s been understood since the time of the classic philosophers that a healthy body is part of an overall healthy approach to life.
Managing physical health should be more about prevention than cure, and for most people, this doesn’t have to distract or even take time away from your other plans. A healthy diet and regular exercise should fit neatly into your schedule and there are infinite ways to go about them.
For example, adding in a few sets of pushups or stretches during the morning routine, taking daily walks or a run during break time, or even just spending more time standing and counting your steps on any number of useful apps are all great ways to incorporate exercise into your schedule, and eating right doesn’t have to be a challenge either.
Managing your physical health is about putting your body to use in the right ways and fuelling it with the right things. You don’t have to follow any particular fad diet or strict regimen; simply cut back on sugar and alcohol and boost the greens, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
Having a healthy body gives your mind a much-needed boost, and as such, once you’ve got a good physical health routine, it will clear the path for better mental health too.
Skill 6: Mental Health
There’s nothing more fundamentally aligned with life management than meditation. It’s had a pretty rough entry into the social consciousness; being brought back by the spiritually-inclined, new-agey travelers returning from the East. However, mindfulness meditation separates and discards mysticism from the practice of meditation, leaving behind a powerful tool to exercise the mind, and with it comes numerous benefits for the rest of your life.
At its core, mindfulness is an exercise in attention and self-awareness. There’s nothing magical about it – you’re literally strengthening an area of the brain that is linked to emotional regulation, memory, self-reflection, and concentration. Meditation helps people deal with depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, and should be a fundamental practice for anyone who wants to manage their lives better.
Considering the mind as a muscle, and working it accordingly, will pay dividends when it comes to success. There are countless apps and guides online to get you started with meditation, but if it’s not for you, there are still loads of ways to improve mental clarity.
Being considerate of your mental health also means getting enough rest, making sure there’s access to enough green space, and being able to release tension and unwind in whichever ways work for you. With a strong focus on mental well-being and self-reflection, it makes future self-improvement a lot more accessible.
Finally, sleep is one thing that many hard-working people sacrifice – yet sleep is the foundation of a healthy mind and improved productivity. It’s important to remember that rest has value. Making sure your sleep duration and quality are on point is one way you’ll speed up your journey to success in all areas of your life.
Skill 7: Self Improvement
By becoming more mindful and self-aware, you’ll be able to bypass mental blocks and identify areas that are holding you back. Then, using many of the strategies listed above, you can embark on journeys of self-improvement to overcome them.
Putting your life management skills together, you should be able to clean up any areas of weakness and ineffective and work towards being more comfortable, more productive, and more successful in your work and relationships.
For example, common obstacles to personal growth are issues of insecurity or social discomfort. Identifying these issues allows you to plan ways to work on them such as attending more social or networking events, practicing your communication skills, and overcoming lapses in confidence with more public speaking.
Keeping a plan for self-improvement exercises in your overall life management plan will ensure that you’re not just idling when it comes to personal growth. There is no skill more important to a well-balanced life than a humble search for betterment. With this in mind, there are a few classes and groups worth looking into that are a great addition to your life management resources, such as Toastmasters for public speaking and leadership.
Whatever your personal and professional dreams are, attaining them is a lot more likely with some of these basic life management skills. Luckily, they’re all relatively straightforward and easy to incorporate and will contribute tremendously to solving the problem of having too many tasks to do any of them well.
In short, the following skills will contribute to a well-rounded and effective approach to work and life in general:
- Setting goals
- Making a plan
- Managing your time
- Managing your relationships
- Looking after your physical health
- Looking after your mental health
- Using opportunities for self-improvement
All of these skills fit together to complement one another and create a multi-faceted approach to achieving success. With a commitment to these strategies, you’ll be able to balance your efforts toward a fulfilling and productive existence; one which will bring you closer to everything you want to get out of life.