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Oct 15

Act Or Be Acted Upon: How to be Productive

by Michelle Santaferraro

“Act or be acted upon”, this is what Stephen Covey says in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  He is talking about being proactive versus reactive in life.  Spending most of your day in a reactive mode can leave you stressed and making the confession at the end of the day – “I got nothing done!”

But what if you could change that?

I like how Covey explains being proactive in his first habit – “It means more than merely taking initiative.  It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.  Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.  We can subordinate feelings to values.  We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.”

He speaks about an overall mindset that encapsulates responsible behavior in all parts of your life.  Yet, if we took this concept of being proactive into our work week, what would it look like?

One way is to look at your week ahead and identify your priorities before jumping into the week.  These priorities should be flowing out of your long term goals and/or business objectives.  The types of activities that you may identify are:

  • Contacting customers
  • Developing content
  • Solving problems
  • Strategizing
  • Developing yourself professionally
  • Coaching
  • Planning/Preparation
  • Networking
  • Building relationships

Once these are identified, the second thing I encourage you to do is to time block.  Time blocking is making appointments with yourself so that you will honor and give attention to these priorities amidst distractions.  It is important to do this because no one will be knocking at your door to see if you got these done.  They are empowering priorities that move you forward and so they carry with them deep gratification when completed.

A third way to be proactive is to look at your week ahead and ‘anticipate’ what is coming up.  Are there appointments to confirm, deliverables due for a meeting, or preparation needed for a difficult conversation?  Reactive people are in a state of constant interruption and repeated fire quenching. Being pulled into these repeated situations can only cause more stress.

Becoming proactive holds with it great empowerment.  You can become a more proactive person by looking at your week ahead and identifying priorities, blocking your time, and anticipating what is coming up in the week ahead.  This will put you in an offensive stance to approach your week with vigor.

Posted in Personal Productivity, Tips