From rushed and reactive to calm and considered

Do you feel like you’re always reacting to things at work? Do you have to “fight” to get to the most important tasks? Do you usually lack the time to reflect?

This is not a satisfying way to work. It’s a recipe for doing poor-quality work that you don’t care about. Yet it is a common situation.

Ideally, you want to calmly and deliberate choose what to work on. You want to have ample time to get stuff done. And you want to deliver high-quality work that you can be proud of.

How can you go from rushed and reactive to calm and considered?

Regardless of your work environment, the answer is to be proactive and assertive about your time.

If you are lucky, you might work at a company that encourages reflection, deliberation, and taking the time to get things right. Or, if you work for yourself, you may consider yourself lucky if you’ve already developed the skills to work this way.

If not, you’ll have to practice. Here’s a few ways to get started:

  1. Say no. If your boss asks you to do something by tomorrow afternoon, and you know that’s not enough time to do a careful job, then say no. Same goes if you work with clients. Explain why you’re saying no, but stand firm. It’s a matter of doing what’s best for you and for your company/clients in the long run. And it’s also a matter of setting precedent.
  2. Slow down your brain. Even if something needs to get done quickly, try to stay calm. Relax. You can move quickly without rushing.
  3. Plan your work day and your work week. If you’re having trouble staying on track to get the important work done, a good work plan will help. For example, you can do weekly reviews or set up a complete calendar.
  4. Let go of the idea that you can get everything done. You will never check all items off of your to-do lists. You can never finish everything that people ask you to do—they’ll just ask you to do more. And there are no perfect work days.

It is possible to work in a calm, deliberate, and reflective way. It is possible to have plenty of time to get stuff done. It just takes some practice.

Try to accept this fact, even if you see thousands of bankers, lawyers, and consultants rushing around all the time and never leaving their phones for a minute. Your work life simply doesn’t have to be that way.


— Peter

P.S. Need help building these skills? I’m taking on some coaching clients. Just reply to this email if you’re interested and we’ll chat.

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