Productivity Tip: Act First, React Later

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Have you ever set out to work on a project or task, but suddenly become distracted by an Image of phrase Action!email request, phone call, text or chat message?

You abandon what you were working on and get wrapped up in this new request. The hours fly by and you realize you still haven’t finished what you wanted to do that day.

If you constantly find yourself reacting to others’ requests without first taking action on your own projects or tasks, when will you get to your projects and tasks? The truth is, you may never get there.

Here are some tips to help you get into the “act first, react later” mindset so you can actually get the things you want to get done…well…done!

Be selfish with your tasks.

Put yourself first and complete a personal or professional task or two at the beginning of your day before completing a task for anyone else. This is kinda like those emergency landing instructions on airplanes “put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others with their oxygen mask.” You’ll be guaranteed at least one task that you set to do will be accomplished by the end of the day. An added bonus? You could find a new sense of energy or accomplishment in your day just by switching around a couple of tasks. Give it a try!

Set time aside for reaction-type tasks.

Instead of just reacting to external requests on a daily basis, set aside specific times in your schedule to connect with people via email, phone, text and so on. It’s much easier to work within a certain base framework, such as answering emails or calling people on the phone, than switching back and forth from different tasks. For example, you could set aside certain times over the course of a day to check and answer emails, say at 11am and 3pm.

Take action by identifying and minimizing distractions.

Do you know what distracts you from your work over the course of a day? Is it email? Texting? A phone call? Knowing what distracts you from your work is half the battle. Take action for yourself and minimize distractions by logging off of email, turning off or switching your cellphone to silent mode or setting your phone to go straight to voice mail. You might even find changing your work location to a quieter area or location helps you to focus and finish what you set out to complete.

Now to you… do you think you are more action-oriented or reaction-oriented when it comes to an average day at work or home? Leave a comment below and join in the conversation!


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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.