Whether you are an entrepreneur or work for a company, being proactive at work can increase your overall productivity, reduce stress, and show initiative to employers or potential clients. But what does it look like to be proactive at work?
While there are many examples that can be given of specific situations, each of the following tips can be used whether you are a solo entrepreneur, freelancer, or employee.
1. Use the 5-Minute Rule, With a Twist!
A lot of times, you may have heard the advice, “if something will take less than 5 minutes, just do it right away.” And that’s typically good advice; however, at work, this can be an incredible hindrance to your productivity.
A way to be proactive with these smaller nagging tasks is to still use the 5-minute rule, but add a twist to it: when you’re working, and you think of one of these small things, add it to a list. Plan time either at the end of each day or week to evaluate the list. Then, you can decide to:
- Complete the task at that time;
- Delegate the task (if it’s something that’s going to take more than 5 minutes);
- Or decide that it’s not of consequence and delete it.
By choosing to deal with the tasks in this way, you avoid being distracted by the various things that pop up throughout the day, but you also have a dedicated place to keep track of these tasks. Having the tasks out of your head and on to a list avoids the mental clutter that can distract you while you’re doing other work.
2. Be Proactive About Finding Like-Minded People
One of the biggest contributors to success is being surrounded by like-minded people. As an entrepreneur, this can be especially challenging because many ventures start out with just one person. One way that I have found to work around this is by participating in online masterminds and virtual coworking.
Masterminds are helpful for the intellectual value created. They give you an opportunity to exchange ideas and get relevant feedback from peers who understand your work. While they can be an investment, I do recommend paid masterminds whenever possible. Participants (including you!) will take the group more seriously and be far more invested than they might in a free mastermind.
If you’re just looking for accountability to stay on-task, virtual coworking is a lifesaver! In my experience, it works like this:
- Participants log on to a Zoom call or other video conferencing software together;
- Then, someone sets a timer for 25 minutes, and everyone mutes themselves and works with focus during that time;
- When the timer goes off, everyone takes a 5-minute break and discusses their progress.
It’s surprising how much you can get done in that period of time. This method is particularly helpful because the added accountability will keep you from picking up your phone or drifting over to social media during your allotted working time.
3. Plan for the Result You Want
Possibly the biggest improvement to my overall productivity at work came when I learned to plan for the outcome. This is something that life the coach, Natalie Bacon, teaches. She says that when you are project planning and create a daily schedule, you shouldn’t create a block of time and just call it “work on my project.”
Also Read: Why Working Less Will Get You More Results
Instead, what she advises is that you should have the project broken down into individual tasks, and each time block dedicated to the project should have specific tasks assigned to it. For instance, if you’re creating a workshop, you could have things like outline presentation, create slides, format workbook material, etc.
When you plan this way, you know that you have a certain amount of time to take care of very specific tasks. It then becomes much easier to measure productivity, as you are able to clearly see whether or not you accomplished the outcomes intended for a certain period of time.
Be proactive by combining this method with using a timer can be a game-changer in productivity!
4. Be Intentional About Being Proactive at Work
Sometimes, you can get lost in the grind and get to the end of a day or week and question what you even accomplished. Or perhaps, it feels as though you have a project or assignment coming up that feels overwhelming. In both of these situations, being intentional and proactive at work can make a huge difference in your outcome.
Being proactive means that you know how to get things done. By avoiding distractions, creating a like-minded community, and planning for outcomes, you’ll be able to create the results that you set out to accomplish.