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Career Monday: The Secret to Being More Proactive at Work

What does your workday look like? Maybe you’re productive and engaged. Maybe you’re working hard but accomplishing little because you’re usually cleaning up after the things that happened yesterday.

The answer depends on whether you’re reactive or proactive. A reactive approach leaves you stuck responding to situations rather than controlling them. On the other hand, being proactive helps you to shape your future and experience less stress.

The choice is up to you. If you want to be more proactive at work, focus on planning, organization, and communication.

Planning:

1. Set priorities. Think about the most valuable and meaningful aspects of your job. Figure out how you can devote more time and energy to these priorities. When possible, avoid activities that would pull you off track.

2. Seek solutions. Focus on the things you can control. Instead of dwelling on disappointment and regrets, ask yourself what you can do now to get the outcomes that you want. Be creative. Take action and move forward.

3. Be realistic. Maybe you’re struggling because you’re trying to do too much. Review your goals to ensure that they’re really within your reach.

4. Embrace change. Anticipating change can make transitions more comfortable. Stay informed about what’s going on at your office and in your industry. Pay more attention to what you have to gain rather than trying to resist the inevitable.

5. Strengthen your skills. One of the most effective ways to prepare for the future is to keep your qualifications relevant. Sign up for training at work and take courses online. Volunteer for challenging projects at work.

Organization:

1. Write a list. Your to do list provides structure and helps you to measure your accomplishments. It clarifies your priorities and may even reduce anxiety. Research shows you’ll be less distracted by future tasks once you know you have a written reminder.

2. Update your calendar. Block out your time, so you’ll be able to complete your most important and urgent tasks. Give yourself adequate breaks to keep your performance strong and protect yourself from burnout.

3. Develop systems. Experiment with efficiency tools and methods that work for you. You might like giant year-at-a-glance posters that help you to think long-term. You might prefer keeping your desk and walls bare in order to maximize your concentration.

4. Use technology. Apps and automation are another way to accomplish more in less time. Browse for free apps or sign up for a trial period to test what works for you.

Communication:

1. Reply promptly. Your colleagues and customers will appreciate your quick attention. Plus, you’ll waste less time second guessing what you want to say about simple matters.

2. Share information. Collaboration makes it easier to be proactive. Use meetings and task management apps to exchange ideas and keep team members updated on the latest developments.

3. Consider others. Being proactive is usually advantageous, but you may have to take some precautions. Ensure that your boss approves of your innovations. Be sensitive to other’s needs if you’re presenting proposals that would increase their workload.

4. Seek feedback. Encouraging frequent and constructive feedback is an excellent way to stay coordinated. Respectful conversations and active listening will help team members to develop common values and goals.

5. Network regularly. Building and maintaining a healthy network is another area where it’s beneficial to be proactive. Reach out to others and give generously. Join interest groups and participate in discussions online. Follow up after conferences and information interviews.

Being proactive will increase your job satisfaction and make you a more valuable employee. Advance your career by planning ahead and taking initiative.

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