Is your work pro-active or reactive?

Overworked and too much to do?

Sometimes it can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the working day to do all the things you need to.  Extra work always seems to get piled on to your load and you’re constantly dancing to someone else’s tune, leaving you little time to get done the things you need to focusing on. Sound like you? Then it sounds like you’re working reactively, not pro-actively.  Even though that’s how most people tend to operate, it’s not the most productive way to operate.

Being reactive in the workplace means you’re responding to events that are happening right now – your time gets spent on the interruptions, not on the things that really matter.  That could mean answering or returning phone calls, responding to e-mails and working on the minor extra tasks that get put on your desk.  And as these interruptions come through, they take your focus away from the tasks that need to be done: making sales calls to potential new clients or working on a current project or campaign or report.

Instead, take the initiative yourself to plan your time pro-actively.  Spend the last 5-10 minutes of your work day deciding what needs doing tomorrow, and when is the best time to get it done setting aside a bit of time to for any extra things that could come your way.  This approach will help give you focus and perspective of what there is to do, and if you make sure to allocate a bit of time to all those little things like responding to e-mails then you’re less likely to get distracted.

Some experts suggest using 25 minute blocks where you ignore any interruptions – no answering the phone, no checking e-mails, no chatting with your co-workers – and focus on the task at hand.  Then in the breaks between these sessions, you can respond to everything you’ve missed.

The ability to prioritise your work too will also help you to work more productively.  If you organise the tasks you have to do into those that are urgent and non-urgent, you can get the things that need doing immediately out of the way first – after all, of all the e-mails you receive every day, how many really need to be dealt with the instant that they’re received?  It can also help to think about the time it takes to do a task – if an interruption, like being asked to print a document for your manager, is likely to take less than 5 minutes to complete, you might as well do it immediately and get it out of the way, whereas something that will take much longer to complete should wait until you’re on top of the task at hand.

If you think you need to rethink the way you work and show to your boss that you’re a Bright Spark, try out some of our suggestions and let us know whether it’s made a difference to you.