Incremental Time Savings by Being Proactive

Being Proactive
Being Proactive

As a project manager, I have always tried to seek the most efficient route to get a job done. I identify the critical path.  I try to determine how to schedule tasks concurrently. Being proactive is critical to this type of planning.

There is a lot of advice out there on time management. I’ve found that the greatest aspect of managing my time effectively comes down to being proactive. It seems like a subtle thing, but the incremental gains I get from it are pretty amazing.  But I think the reason people are not proactive is that it takes a fair amount of overhead and planning.

Planning ahead

The biggest aspect of being proactive is planning ahead. You have to take the time to plan your day, your week, your year, your life. You have to have a plan for where you want to go. Then you have to develop the steps necessary to get there.

By taking the time to plan, you always know your destiny and what it takes to get there. Many people don’t plan. They rely on luck to make them successful. There is no such thing as luck.  There are only good decisions and bad decisions.

Be organized

All the planning in the world will not help you if you don’t organize that plan. Organization is a matter of writing things down. Write your plans down. Write down the steps in the path that will get you there. On a daily basis, write down what you need to do each day (your to-do list) to get you that much closer to your goal.

By having all of this information handy and available to you at all times, you can be organized enough to get where you’re going.

Prioritize

You can write lists as long as your arm. But if you end up working on the wrong tasks, you may still never realize your dreams. You need to go through that list and determine the most important items that you need to do first.

This could include items that have dependencies. If one task’s output feeds into another task, you have to do them in the right sequence. Other tasks are just more important than others. Make sure that you do the most important tasks first.

Don’t delay

On a more tactical approach, it is important not to procrastinate. Do you need to schedule a meeting? Schedule it right away. People’s schedules fill up quickly. The longer you delay scheduling a meeting, the further out it will end up taking place.

I have a process that I use with email. I create folders for different categories of emails. I use my inbox for tasks I need to act on. Once I act on them, I move them into their appropriate folder. My goal is to have as few emails in my inbox as possible. This keeps me from delaying taking any action.

Conclusion

Many people approach time management as a way to save time in large swaths. That’s good work if you can get it. But saving time also requires an investment in time. Taking the time to be organized results in incremental time savings. Those incremental time savings accumulate and result in major time savings and major accomplishments. It’s all a matter of being proactive.

Are you proactive enough to save time?

If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.

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