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Self-management is fundamentally about building habits. These habits fall into two primary categories. The first is self-care. Self-care is all about stress management, positive thinking, setting aside down-time, eating healthy, exercising and being mindful. The second category is productivity. Productivity is improving skills, efficient time-management, generating value through working, and social networking.

A good way to begin building personal structure and habits in your simple life, is through the use of applications. There are a variety of these programs, and any of them could be right for you. I have found two essential apps for self management are a habit tracker and a task manager.

A habit-tracker app reminds you of things you do repeatedly. The habit-tracker I use is called Loop. This Android mobile app is completely free, no ads, no limitations and works offline. To start, I list every single thing that is part of my daily routine. List basic things, even if you already have established the habits to do them. For example, I list brushing my teeth and taking my supplements every morning and every evening. That’s four daily tasks. I like to have tea in the morning and in the afternoon. I added those to my daily loop as well. The reason to add current habits it to help build the new habit of actually using the habit-tracker.

Each habit can have a set frequency. Some things I set to do daily, other things I set for five days a week. Habits can also have reminders that display on your phone at the specific time you schedule. You can track habits in several ways. One way is a simple yes or no tracking. Did I do the task or didn’t I? Another way to track something is through a measured amount. How many cups of coffee did I drink? How far did I walk?

Once you have listed all of your existing habits, it’s time to add the new ones you want to create. Start with a habit called Improve My Skills. I call mine Improve My Skills for 2 Hours. I have it set to be done five days a week, giving myself weekends off. Another skill is Be Productive. I set my goal to be productive three hours a day. My definition of productive is time spent doing anything that supports my ability to generate value. Writing this blog is productive. Making a podcast is productive. Social networking and self-marketing are productive. Even house chores are productive.

If you don’t have Exercise as an existing habit, add it as well. Mine is called Exercise for 1 Hour. Your exercise routine is up to you, of course. The habit tracker is just there for you to record if you did it. It’s important to never check a habit item as done if you didn’t actually do it. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes you will miss an item. The habit tracker will allow you to see a visual record of how your new habits are progressing. Over time, your new habits will become part of your life routine.

The second essential app to have is a Task Manager. I personally use Todoist, but, as with habit trackers, there are many options to try. A Task Manager is a type of To Do List. I track my task grouped by projects. I have a Home project that contains tasks that are related to home maintenance. Some examples are: change light bulb in the living room, call the appliance repair center, and fix the lawn mower.

I have another project called Bills. On it are the due dates for all my credit cards, services, and subscriptions. Todoist syncs these with my Google calendar so I never accidentally miss a payment.

Every client is a project. If a client relationship is ongoing, I set some of the tasks in their project to automatically repeat. You can leave comments on each task for notes related to it. Each task can have subtasks. For example: suppose you are working at a charity and prepare a deposit for weekly donations. The primary task would be called “Prepare deposit”. Subtasks would be to count and record cash, record who sent checks and the amount, fill out the deposit slip, place deposit in bank bag.

It’s important to be detailed with tasks related to client projects. Your task tracker is an activity log. It’s your record of outValue given. This log serves as data you can analyze whenever you re-assess the list of your marketed skills.

So to recap, two essential self-management tools are the habit-tracker and the Task Manager. These will help you establish routines, stay on top of commitments and provide detailed activity records for future self-evaluation.

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