Going from Reactive to Proactive

The reality in these tough economic times is that it is unlikely to get additional resources and you can never get more time.  But don’t give up.  There are ways to stay motivated and plan through evaluation of effort and prioritization.

  • Evaluate your current workload.  Are there some tasks that you are performing that can be deferred or delegated?  For example, I had an someone in my office who used to spend an extensive amount of time on every detail.  Good in an accounting office, but not good for every situation.  Some situations could be resolved with less effort, but it wasn’t until I clearly identified what her responsibilities were versus what she wasn’t responsible for.  Do this same thing for yourself and guard your limited time.  Sometimes we take on more than we really should be doing because we are spending so much time in the weeds.
  • Write out a list of issues, problems and patterns that you would like to see operate differently, efficiently or effectively. Determine which of these that you can influence or control and establish a game plan.  If you are time constrained, do this in small stages.  Maybe focus on one issue a day or a week, or even a month, depending upon the complexity.
  • Understand the problem before you come up with a solution and try to think of more than one solution.  Sometimes it’s helpful to brainstorm and people brainstorm differently.  I like writing things out and visibly seeing it on paper.  Sort of like a fishbone diagram to make sure the focus is on the root cause and not a symptom of the problem.
  • Involve the appropriate parties and do not operate in a vacuum.  If this problem involves other people or other functional areas, include them in the solution.  Let them know what you’ve observed, what you would like to see happen and involve them in the how to get there portion, since you will most likely need them to help you achieve your desired outcome.  Sometimes the best way to do this is to show them how the problem and solution impact them.
  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.  Be an advocate for the agreed upon solution and be persistent to ensure that it consistently being done.  Tell people of the success stories as a result of their direct input into the problem solving.  Praise those to others than are executing the solution.

Nip it in the bud and move on to the next problem.  There are no more hours in a day, just a different way to manage the work that we have in those hours.  The sooner you focus on a problem and are proactively resolving it, the more time you will have later.  That upfront investment could have a return of requiring less of your time later.