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Moving from reacting to initiating

‘The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to INITIATE.’ – Seth Godin

For a long time email was where I started the day.  When I woke up, when I sat down at my desk.  Half the morning went by and I was into meetings.  Then trying to find time for lunch.  As I struggled to find productive time in the afternoon, I felt that it was easy to get to the end of the day and I had not done anything that I wanted to.  Critical thought was sadly absent.

Through structuring our day and according to author Amantha Imber, if we leave email and social to after lunch, we will enjoy our day on our terms.  A more productive day, certainly one that we spend this critical and most productive time initiating, that is working on our priorities, rather than that of others.

Does not the very word ‘creative’ mean to build, to initiate, to give out, to act – rather than to be acted upon, to be subjective?  Berenice Abbott

Most professionals spend half their day responding to email and checking social networks. Nearly a quarter of workers spend almost all of their time in their email and read email as soon as it comes in. Only 30% check messages occasionally.

2015 University of British Columbia found that those that checked their email less, experienced lower levels of stress.  Every interruption means that critical Deep Work (Cal Newport) is more difficult and less likely.

We tend to reserve the third bucket, initiate, for quiet times, good times, down times or desperate times. We wait until the inbox is empty. Seth Godin

Most knowledge workers spend their day doing one of three things:

  • Reacting (badly) to external situations
  • Responding (well) to external inputs
  • Initiating new events or ideas (rare), 

Spending time on others yields a greater return than spending time on yourself. Tom Rath.  As Tom goes further in his most enjoyable book – Are you Fully Charged?   Pointing out that in our job descriptions I does not say that reading and responding to email and social is a core part of our work.

The technique of writing the two do list for the following day, before shutting down our work for the day is a useful one.  Thus, having a prioristised list for when we start up again the next day.

Photo by Danielle McInnes on Unsplash