Avoid time problems by being proactive.

by: Harold Taylor

When you’re in a time bind, every interruption, every additional request or even a coffee break becomes a stressor. Things left undone themselves become a source of stress. Regardless of some people’s claim, we don’t work better under stress; we simply work faster. And speed in turn produces errors and omissions.

We are healthier and happier and more productive when we feel that we are on top of our jobs.
If you are not proactive, your job, and the tasks and activities it includes, will control you rather than the other way around. You become so busy fighting fires, reacting to the demands of others, solving problems that should never have occurred, and making amends for missed meetings, forgotten commitments and late assignments, that you get even further behind.

Reactive people are usually disorganized since they never have time to develop systems or routines for filing paperwork and electronic documents. They waste time searching for things, shuffling papers and following up with others. And they don’t have the luxury of setting deadlines on tasks and projects. Everything is rush, rush. They don’t have the option of scheduling priority tasks for specific times in the future; because they are too busy dealing with the present. They are captive to the tyranny of the urgent.

Proactive people, on the other hand, not only set deadlines for all priority tasks and projects, they aim to finish these commitments well before the deadlines.

Here are a few suggestions for becoming more proactive at work.
Get organized. People exert less self-control after seeing a messy desk than after seeing a tidy one. An organized office and home make it less of a strain to maintain self-discipline, and consumes less energy.

Set fewer goals. Productivity experts claim that an executive’s “to do” list for Monday often contains more work than can be done in an entire week. Delegate, outsource or eliminate less important tasks. You’ll never get ahead if you’re always behind. And too much work is detrimental to your work.

Visualize the task or activity in advance. For example, before organizing a workshop, walk mentally through the entire workshop, and recognize that you will need a registration table, nametags, a place to hang coats, outlets for laptops, coffee before starting, writing material and notes and so on.

Work ahead on repetitive tasks. Use spare moments such as waiting time and commuting time to prepare weekly tasks such as articles, newsletters and postings to maintain an inventory of completed tasks for future use.

Stop procrastinating. People don’t procrastinate on important work by doing nothing; they simply do other things instead. Make your priority tasks commitments by blocking off time in your planner to do them – as you would for an appointment with a client. Make appointments with yourself to get things done. Always schedule more time than you think the tasks will take.
Set deadlines on all important tasks. Only unrealistic deadlines cause stress. Reasonable deadlines allow you to determine when to start and how much time to schedule each day in order to complete the task on time.

Develop checklists. Make checklists for all events or activities such as meetings, travel, conferences, sales calls, and interviews and so on. Checklists save time and insure that nothing is missed.

There are additional ways to become proactive, and many of them will be covered in a future “Lunch ‘N Learn” session on the topic at a Sussex & District Chamber of Commerce members’ meeting. Check the Chamber website for upcoming events.

In the meantime, remember that if you get behind in any of your work, all of your work will suffer.

Harold L Taylor, owner of Taylorintime.com, is a member of the Sussex & District Chamber of Commerce and a columnist with the Kings County Record, tj.news/kingscountyrecord.

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