What’s Needed to Avoid Being Reactive

Have you ever had those days, weeks, months, or even years, where so much is going on in your life that you feel like you’re just reacting to everything as it happens?    You know how it goes.  Something comes up, it commands your attention so you work on it until the next urgent thing comes up, at which point you stop working on what you were previously working on and focus on this new task, without any sort of plan or method to prioritizing or completing it.  Whew!  It’s draining just thinking about it!  Perhaps you feel like that at home, at work, or at school.  (Maybe you feel like that in all 3 places!)

Regardless where it happens, this cycle of reacting to the last task that comes in places our focus on other people’s agenda and causes our days to be filled focusing on someone else’s priorities.

I’ve been experiencing this during the last few weeks at work and have been thinking about the causes and solutions to avoid staying in this crazy cycle.  In my case it seems that the reason for getting in this cycle is not primarily due to an increase in workload or requests, but rather my lack of prioritizing or having systems in place to handle this workload.

It’s easy to handle a couple of tasks without a system or prioritization process.  Anyone can do that.  It’s when the volume of requests starts to climb that we need the structure of good systems and direction of clear priorities.  Systems tell us how requests will be handled, and priorities tell us what we should be spending our time on.  Without systems and priorities, we lack the necessary tools to help us navigate and process our requests.  How can we expect to cause something to happen if we lack the tools to do so?

Are you feeling overwhelmed at work, school, or home with multiple requests and tasks?  What areas of your life would benefit from having systems and priorities in place to guide you?  Once you identify these areas, spend some time developing the systems and priorities necessary to help you become more effective.  If you need assistance in this area, I recommend reading Work the System by Sam Carpenter and Getting Things Done by David Allen.  Both of these books are excellent and provide great ideas that you can implement immediately.

Even if you’re currently busy and overwhelmed by requests and tasks, take some time to develop the systems you need to handle them. It will be an investment in your productivity and well-being.

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