4 ways to be more independent in work or in school

This Young Professional challenge is all about improving your independence skills, growing your these skills forms part of your Self management toolkit.

Being independent doesn’t mean that you never have to work with others or that you should never ask for help. It means that you take responsibility and control of your actions and decisions whilst considering those around you.

It is very rare that any task you do won’t involve you having to work independently, even when you are part of a team there will be parts that you will take responsibility for and do alone. Being independent doesn’t just cover work and projects, it covers how you take responsibility in lots of other ways too. It means you are able to take other people’s ideas on board but make up your own mind, when you see others taking actions that you know aren’t ok you don’t just follow suit – you know your own mind and you stick by it!

Get it together:

We’ve talked about how important being organised is before and believe it or not it’s the first step on becoming a more independent you. It is time to sort out your ‘to do’s’, your desk, your inbox and your diary!

Getting organised will help you have a better idea of what needs to be done and what your tasks are each day, the better view you have of what needs to be done the more time you have to think and explore what you need to do before a meeting or to help you finish a project. Having a clear inbox, desk and mind also shows the world (and your boss or teacher) that you are taking charge of your workload and working independently.

Take some initiative:

Spotting things that need to be done and doing them is how we often define initiative and it is a good measure but it is important that we consider how and where we use our time. Kicking off lots of activity and stepping on people’s toes by starting their job for them can cause troubles in a team. Start by thinking about what your role is and what you can do to get started, showing you have explored this before projects kick off sets you up to do well in the project and shows off your skills too.

Know your stuff (but know more than that too!)

When faced with a new project, do your research, make sure you explore the subject so you are comfortable with what you are doing!

When you do come up against something in a project you can’t tackle, make sure you do your research and ask questions. Try as best you can to figure out the answer, you won’t always be able to answer the question but it is good to show you have used your skills and that you have tried before seeking help. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t work out every answer, you can’t know everything, but you have worked independently to try and find out the answers and that is what is important!

Take on new challenges

When you are ready, helped by the fact that you’ve got organised, done your research and taken some initiative you’ll find that working independently becomes part of how you work. Once you’ve got this covered it is time to take on some new responsibilities, it might start with organising team meetings or sharing the notes after each meeting but before long you might feel ready to take a lead on a project or ask to chair or present for part of a meeting.


being independent doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself without help it means that you know what you need to do, you take the initiative to get it done and that you are confident in your opinions and decisions.


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