Proactive. I’ve used the word for the last few posts but what does the word actually mean? Let’s ask Merriam-Webster:
Being proactive means you are looking ahead, planning instead of reacting, and setting yourself up for success instead of overwhelm. When you exchange your bad habit of procrastinating for a good habit of being more proactive, you allow yourself to experience more happiness, peace, and true free time than when you are constantly putting things off and then end up living in a mad dash toward deadlines. Being proactive can ultimately have positive impacts on your health, relationships, faith, and finances.
We’ve discussed the root causes to procrastination, noting that they are often tied to thoughts and beliefs that are long held. We’ve also talked about how procrastination is much more than just developing good “time management” skill sets. You know by now that breaking up with this awful habit is going to require you to do some digging and deep inner work to understand your WHY.
In the the meantime, to help you on your journey, let’s talk about four simple activities you can do this coming week to move from procrastination to progress.
Zoraida Basaldu of Empowered Fem taught me how to manage my time like a Queen. Behind her ideas is a philosophy that she teaches in her Empowered Teens program: Know where your energy goes each day. Through teaching the teens about energy management and understanding when they are at their best, when they are sluggish, when they feel most alert, when they feel most active, etc., she is able to help them identify their best study times. If she can do this with middle school girls who can’t control their own schedules, imagine what you can do if you control your day.
Becoming aware of your energy patterns is as simple as tracking your days for a full week. Grab a piece of paper, write the hours you are awake in a day (i.e., 5 am – 11 pm) down the paper, and then next to it rate yourself 1 – 5. You can also use colored pencils or get creative with it. I used a template from my Pixistock membership and updated it by computer throughout the day since I work on the computer. I used only 8 am – 10 pm because those are my core hours. Anything before then is spent rushing to get my daughter to school and anything after then is time I am catching up because I didn’t plan well. In the ideal part of my world, this would be when I am active and need to be aware of my time. As you can see, I am wide awake and super creative when most are winding down for the evening.
Once you identify your most alert and creative hours, do your hardest things then! Set up your day so that time is blocked for you to get things done. If you are most alert from 12 – 4, DO NOT schedule lunches with friends. You’re robbing yourself of income and productivity. Instead, schedule breakfast dates or connect with them over a late evening appetizer. If you are a morning person, wake up before others and take that time to do your hardest projects BEFORE the rest of the family wakes up.
In the example above, when do you think would be the best time for me to work on things that will take the most creativity? It suddenly makes sense why I write my blogs mid-afternoon or late evening most of the time. This is one of the best strategies you can have when you are a creative. Forget what they tell you about doing the hardest things first in your day! Seriously, if you are a creative and aren’t a morning person, you are setting yourself up for failure because it will take you twice as long. Mornings for me are filled with email, coffee, easy reports, a Bang, a call or two that doesn’t require a lot of thinking, and setting up meetings for the week. No in-depth discussions. No calls that require me to be ON. Those are held for afternoon and late evening.
I am a Happy Planner freak. Like totally own way too many sticker books and use my planner daily to plan and track my life. If it is going to happen or did happen, it’s recorded there. Why? Because there is magic in writing things down. Also, I love to be creative so they have totally made their product for people like me. I am able to sit each Saturday or Sunday evening (depending upon cheer schedule) and look at what’s coming up for the week according to my phone. I jot down appointments and meetings, then activities that have to be done (think: laundry, chores, journaling time, Bible Study, eGroup with my eFAM, cheer practice, games, etc.), and then things I want to do (think: time with friends, calls I want to make, projects I want to work on but don’t affect my income or goals, movies, etc.). Then, ideally, I live my life according to my planner. If you aren’t in it and it doesn’t say free time, chances are we aren’t getting together.
That is life when I am on my game.
As a procrastinator, start small. Since I haven’t been on my game, I can tell you that right now I am not truly living out that last sentence. I do spend some time watching television or talking with friends that isn’t planned. After all, I am sharing this series as much for me as you.
Write out all the things you have to do in a week, want to do in a week, and think may come up in a week and schedule them. Be as rigid (ever hour) or flexible as needed so you don’t put off doing things for later.
Last but not at all least is that you need to solve problems. Being proactive means you foresee things that could go wrong. You look for opportunities to resolve issues BEFORE they happen instead of reacting. Do laundry a couple times a week instead of just once and then having to do a rush load because game day is tomorrow and you forgot to do it this morning. Work on the party planning during your free time watching television instead of waiting until the day before it so you can ensure you’ll have time to call others involved and verify they are doing their part. Work on things now, even in small bites, so when a problem you truly couldn’t foresee, such as a child getting hurt or a friend needing to talk NOW, arises you won’t have to sacrifice your ability to get things done by their deadlines.
You won’t conquer this overnight. It will take time. But you can make these four steps and start your journey toward being a more proactive person. Small steps lead to great changes. Implement all four if you can, but at least start with one this week: the energy assessment.