“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank
Proactiveness in your Personality
Proactiveness is easier defined than practiced. By definition, being proactive is taking initiative regardless of requirements. A person marked by proactivity consistently finds a solution to a potentially negative situation and takes action before it is required. In practice, proactiveness requires awareness, self-discipline, and an eye for the future. You know you’ve found a proactive person if you’ve seen someone who:
1. Practices Awareness
2. Plans Ahead
3. Takes Initiative
Why Choose Proactivity?
What’s so great about being proactive? Why not just react to life as it comes? The nice thing is that these two approaches don’t necessarily exclude one another. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Your work day is no different. While adaptability is a must, one of the reasons to attempt a proactive lifestyle is the advantages in productivity that it often provides. Adopting a more proactive approach to your everyday life enables you to take control of areas that you can affect, and use that control to promote productivity and decrease stress. I like what Isabella Gura stated in her article, 6 Stages of Personal Growth, that when we choose proactiveness over reactiveness that, “… life happens for us rather than to us.”
Another benefit to becoming more proactive is the message it sends to everyone around you: “I desire to succeed and will work hard to get there.” Someone who thoughtfully plans ahead and takes initiative is someone who is in high demand. Just ask your boss. Being proactive is a great way to show thoughtfulness for others as well. When you organize your day in order to actively help the ones you care for, people will sit up and take notice.
If becoming proactive is such a game-changer, then how do you implement that change? There are lots of great tips available to help you in this area. If you know someone personally who exemplifies proactivity, consider asking them for some pointers. In the meantime, here are 4 ways to start practicing proactiveness.
1. Create Routines and Check-ups
When you carefully examine the practice of being proactive, you inevitably end up with concept of time management. So start prioritizing. Develop a schedule that allows you to allot time to what matters most. Do you want to develop a business relationship? Contact that colleague and set up a monthly meeting. Are you wanting to finish a book this year? Start a plan now to write 100 pages/week. This practice of creating routines can function outside of work settings too. Have you been missing out on quality time with your spouse or child? Create a time each day to invest in the people that matter most to you. Then, once your plan is established, set up reminders – periodic check ups to see if you’re staying on task. It is imperative that you keep yourself accountable if your routine is to take shape and become effective long-term.
2. Mentally Prepare for Difficult Situations
It’s Friday, you’re mentally exhausted and you’re scheduled to meet with your “favorite” manager for a monthly report. What do you do? Creating a small chunk of time to mentally gear-up for a difficult meeting is an excellent way to prepare. Find a quiet spot and plan out the meeting in your mind. Writing your thoughts down can be helpful. Make a list of the questions you’d like to ask, the information you need to give, and the answers you’ll likely have to provide. While this practice doesn’t guarantee a successful meeting, (people are people) taking the time to plan ahead and mentally prepare is a proactive step in the right direction.
This is the opposite of procrastinating. To frontload a project, set up a schedule that forces you to do the bulk of your work within the first 50% of the time you have allotted for the project. (If you have 5 days to complete 20 hours of research, schedule 5 hours/day for days 1-3 and leave 5 hours of work for days 4-5.) This can achieve a couple of different results: 1) It gives you the chance to eliminate stress by finishing your task ahead of schedule. 2) If your project does take longer than expected, you have available extra time to make up the difference without missing your deadline. This approach won’t work for everyone, but if you want to practice proactiveness, give it a try.
4. Focus on Communication
Believe it or not, a lot of productivity is lost each day through miscommunication or non-communication. If it’s your responsibility to reach out to someone, don’t delay and don’t distract from the main point. A quick phone call, a concise email, or even a properly-placed sticky note can all achieve the same goal: proactive communication. If someone else is doing the talking, make sure you are listening well. This usually means no double-tasking while the other person is talking. Repeating back a summary of what you just heard is also a great way to make sure you took in the correct message. Make sure you are communicating concisely and clearly to give your work-place productivity a boost.
A proactive mindset is one of the keys to achieving productivity in your day-to-day life. Preparing for an often negative situation before it happens can sometimes help to bring about a positive result and that goes a long way in streamlining your day. Learn to cultivate an awareness of potential derailments and plan ways to avoid them. Then, act before you’re forced to.
As you learn to manage your time well, you’ll begin to achieve a more productive and balanced work day. Enjoy!
Ben Tejes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, a platform to help people achieve self improvement in the area of personal finance. He is a writer for the Ascend Blog where he writes on topics such as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, IRAs and creditors to help people get out of debt and experience financial freedom.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.