Proactive vs Reactive and Goals for the New Year

Email, ugh! Do you ever feel like your email controls your life? I feel like I could fill a day just reading and responding to emails. I think part of the thing I hate about email is that messages are constantly coming in. And a lot of us use our email as a to-do list, in a way. We leave the emails that we need to respond to in our inbox, and as we respond to messages, it’s checking off one of our things to do for the day. The problem is that by the time you finish constructing one response, 5 new messages may have come in.

I am discovering that email throws me into “reactive” mode. I am a planner, I like having an agenda for the day, and I like to-do lists. My preferred work flow is proactive versus reactive – I like setting goals for the day and checking them off as I go. I always have a “future goals” list running, with projects/goals that I slowly chip away at. But I do best when I set a written agenda for the day, something reasonable that I can get through, and check things off that list. I like having this certainty in my day, and a list of goals helps me stay focused and productive and eliminates time/energy wasted thinking about what to do next.

However, email has been a distraction for me, and I’m finding that it throws me off task too often. I might be working on a task, hear my phone ding, and immediately my attention is turned to the new email. Sometimes I respond immediately, thus focusing my attention off of my task at hand and onto something new, disrupting my workflow. Other times, I decide to respond later and keep going with my task at hand, but still my workflow has been disrupted. Worse yet, I often find myself going back and forth between the two because half of my mind is on each of the separate, unrelated tasks.

One of my biggest goals for the New Year is to be less reactive and more proactive. In 2013, I tried to be a little more “go with the flow”. This doesn’t work so well for my personality. Recently, I feel like I just cannot relax. And I think a big part of the problem is that, being reactive, my to-do list is never-ending and there are way too many decisions in my day-to-day for my liking.

So now, to research the “perfect” to-do app… Just kidding! :)

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