The Secret to Being More Proactive at Work
What does your workday look like? Maybe you’re productive and engaged. Maybe you’re working hard but accomplishing little because you’re usually cleaning up after the things that happened yesterday.
The answer depends on whether you’re reactive or proactive. A reactive approach leaves you stuck responding to situations rather than controlling them. On the other hand, being proactive helps you to shape your future and experience less stress.
According to Jack Canfield in The Success Principles, failing to complete robs your attention so you have less of it to dedicate to other projects. The 4 D’s of completion: Do it, Delegate it, Delay it, or Dump it.
You can stop reacting and start pro-acting, but the choice is up to you. Focus on these three areas to push you and your projects to greater levels of success: Planning, Organization, and Communication.
- Set priorities. Think about the most valuable and meaningful aspects of your job. Figure out how you can devote more time and energy to these priorities. When possible, avoid activities that would pull you off track.
In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work, Dr. Richard Carlson says that completing priority tasks will increase your self-respect and confidence in your own ability to get things done. It will also give you the reputation of being reliable and that will open you up to more opportunities.
- Seek solutions. Focus on the things you can control. Instead of dwelling on disappointment and regrets,. ask yourself what you can do now to get the outcomes that you want. Be creative. Take action and move forward
- Write a list. Your to do list provides structure and helps you to measure your accomplishments. It clarifies your priorities and may even reduce anxiety. Research shows you’ll be less distracted by future tasks once you know you have a written reminder.
- Update your calendar. Block out your time, so you’ll be able to complete your most important and urgent tasks. Give yourself adequate breaks to keep your performance strong and protect yourself from burnout.
- Develop systems. Experiment with efficiency tools and methods that work for you. You might like giant year-at-a-glance posters that help you to think long-term. You might prefer keeping your desk and walls bare in order to maximize your concentration.
- Use technology. Apps and automation are another way to accomplish more in less time. Browse for free apps or sign up for a trial period to test what works for you.
- Reply promptly. Your colleagues and customers will appreciate your quick attention. Plus, you’ll waste less time second guessing what you want to say about simple matters.
- Share information. Collaboration makes it easier to be proactive. Use meetings and task management apps to exchange ideas and keep team members updated on the latest developments.
- Consider others. Being proactive is usually advantageous, but you may have to take some precautions. Ensure that your boss approves of your innovations. Be sensitive to other’s needs if you’re presenting proposals that would increase their workload.
- Seek feedback. Encouraging frequent and constructive feedback is an excellent way to stay coordinated. Respectful conversations and active listening will help team members to develop common values and goals.
- Network regularly. Building and maintaining a healthy network is another area where it’s beneficial to be proactive. Reach out to others and give generously. Join interest groups and participate in discussions online. Follow up after conferences and information interviews.
Being proactive and knocking priorities off your calendar will decrease your stress and increase your job satisfaction. It will also make you a more valuable employee by letting others know you are dependable. Advance your career by planning ahead and taking initiative.