How Are You Spending Your Day?
My clients often tell me on the phone – or on the surveys they fill out prior to working together – that they’re feeling far too reactive in their work day and would prefer to be much more proactive and productive.
Does that sound like you?
OK. So what’s stopping you? What’s getting in your way? Why aren’t you more proactive?
If you can recognize the symptoms of rampant reactivity , you’re more likely to start making better choices about how to use your time, strengthen your systems and track your tasks . So here’s why you might be suffering from rampant reactivity… let’s see if we can turn this around.
- You’re a slave to your Inbox.
I’ve heard so many clients say they’re “living from their Inbox” on a daily basis. One client, a President of a mid-size company in Virginia, said, “Leslie, I’m waiting for my Inbox to tell me what to do next.”Are you waiting for your Inbox to tell you what to do?If so, then you’re not in charge of how you’re spending your day. You also don’t have a really great, complete and comprehensive task list to drive you, which includes all the tasks that come from e-mail.Sounds like you need a little more time to clear out your Inbox – deleting things that aren’t useful to you and setting up strong systems for everything you want to reference in the future. And with a strong electronic Task list, you can incorporate tasks from e-mail and get that Inbox to zero.
And zero in the Inbox means your Inbox is NOT the boss anymore. You are.
- You’re “there” for everyone. When I listen to my clients, or members from some of my live audiences, I hear people say they HAVE to be there for their staff, their team or pretty much everyone else but themselves… ALL the time.Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an executive, you need to realize that you CAN be there for your staff or team AND be there for your own priorities… every… day. Trust me.I want you to take an hour or two each day to shut your office door or disappear into a conference room or work from home (if you regularly work at an office), and get things accomplished on YOUR agenda.
Think of it this way, when you disappear for a 2-hour meeting or you’re spending time with your children for a school sport or play or you’re working 1:1 with a colleague on a special project, you’re not available to anyone during those times. So why are you reluctant – almost refusing – to protect your time for YOUR priorities? If you can do it in the examples I gave above, you can do it for yourself.
START protecting time on your calendar and STOP making excuses. You can do this. You just have to set expectations with those around you so they know when you’ll resurface and be available again. And you have to be strong. Don’t pick up the phone or fall prey to any distractions. Focus . Get something done and enjoy checking it off the list!
- You’re always saying “I’m sorry.”“I’m sorry I couldn’t find that file.”"I’m sorry I was late.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t find the check . Could you mail it again?”
These are all real statements that are communicated between my clients and their colleagues at work and they tell me about their deep desire to put an end to these “I’m sorry” statements.
If you’re saying you’re sorry more often than not, then you’re definitely stuck in the land of reactivity. To operate more proactively and put an end to the cause of your “I’m sorry” statements, what has to happen for you? What part of your work day are you apologizing for the most? From the statements above, which do you resonate with?
Perhaps you need more visibility of everything you committed to, said “yes” to, or have on your plate. Perhaps you need better task tracking so you know where you are at any moment on any task or project. Or maybe you need stronger systems for finding what you need when you need it.
When you get a strong system in place for managing tasks, time, e-mail and information, you’re more likely to be clear on what you need to be doing and when. When you’re really clear on your priorities , you’re more likely to feel a greater sense of urgency for getting things done and when that happens, you’re going to want to protect more of your time to get these things done.
Focus on one area at a time and start fixing it so you never have to say “I’m sorry” again.