It’s Friday, and you’re exhausted but proud of yourself for finishing everything that’s ever listed on your weekly to-do list. You’re especially proud of finishing a project that been handed to you “last minute” because a co-worker missed the order alert and gave you the instructions late. Now, you’ve cleared your email, and you’re ready to start the next week off with a clean slate.
Fast forward to the middle of the week. You are harried and frazzled because things have been creeping up on your to-do list. Some items are from other people, and some are from to-do items that you have overseen. You’ve definitely dropped the ball on those.
Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “maybe I should have a better system for keeping track of things to be done instead of a list and a calendar?” But the truth is, this system has always worked for you. Here’s one thing you can try…how about you start being proactive rather than reactive.
What’s the difference?
As an adjective, Merriam-Webster defines the word reactive as “done in response to a problem or situation: reacting to problems when they occur instead of doing something to prevent them.” Meanwhile, proactive is defined as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.” See the difference? One is responding to problems as they occur, and the other is acting in anticipation. The difference is one of perspective.
It’s nice to not stress yourself out and just go with the flow. The problem is that when the flow takes you to unchartered waters, uncertainty and fear sets in. That leads to more stress in the long run. Wouldn’t it be better to prepare in advance?
If you’re one who always anticipates a last minute change to their agenda, I salute you. Tell me how you can predict the future, I’d love to know the secret. But for most of us who do not have the superhuman power of clairvoyance being able to predict when unexpected tasks will spring up is just not possible. However, you can map out a battle plan for when the unexpected comes.
You can delegate the task when it comes. This doesn’t mean making it someone else’s problem but sharing the workload utilizes other people’s skills and let you manage your time efficiently. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Good leaders recognize this and leverage the best people who they know can do more for the project than they can.
You can create a system. Again, this helps you manage your time better and helps streamline processes and responses to an emergency. With practice and some fine tuning, you can create a system that can ensure that work gets done smoothly and without hitches.
In the case of projects and deadlines and other tasks that creep up during the workweek, it would be better to schedule some free time on your calendar to take care of ad hoc tasks. Or pencil in an entry in your to-do list like “take care of ad hoc tasks” or “prepare side project”. This way, you won’t have to be blindsided by immediate and urgent tasks that weren’t on your to-do list in the first place. And you can go back to having things in your agenda under control.
Lastly, take a breather. Clear your mind so that you can get into a more productive headspace. You’ll be surprised at the benefits you can gain by taking a step back to see the bigger picture. And as always remember to stay humble and hustle hard.
Written by Jaie O.- The Help