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One thing I’ve been working on lately is trying to accomplish my 3 most important tasks (MITs) BEFORE I check email and start responding to folks. This shift has been a game-changer for my work and productivity, because it moves me from passivity to proactivity.

Working Passively

When I work in a passive way, I’m responding to the needs of everyone else first. This is what happens when I begin my day by opening my email and working through my inbox. As I work through my email, there are numerous requests that pop up. I feel the need to respond. There might be a project that someone needs help with, and I’m pulled to complete the request right away. I can spend my whole day responding to email and requests from others, and not get anything done on my MITs.

Working Proactively

When I move from passivity to proactivity, I’m the one directing my time and schedule. I set out my most important goals and tasks for the day. I work on these tasks first, before I do anything else. Because I’m in the driver’s seat, I make progress every day on my most important tasks. This is the priority, so I want to tackle these things first.

Striking a Balance

There’s a balance here. I do have colleagues and students that I need to respond to. Many of their requests are important. So, realistically I know I can’t spend all day working on my MITs (even if I wanted to). So, what I try to do is set out 3 MITs that can each be completed in about an hour. If all goes well, I have completed my 3 MITs 3 hours into my work day, and then I can shift to responding to emails and other requests. I do spend a decent amount of my day responding. But I’m proactive and take care of my MITs first.

Proactivity in All Areas of Life

I’ve spent most of this post talking about being proactive at work, but the same principle is important in other areas of life as well. What would it look like to be proactive with your health goals? Your relationship with your spouse and kids? Your spiritual life? Any time you can move from passivity to proactivity, you are bound to make an improvement.

Discussion

What is one area of your life where you are struggling? What would it look like to make a shift from passivity to proactivity?