How to be proactive at work
Proactive working allows you to be prepared for change in the future. As project managers, it is important we are in the right mindset to make logical, rational decisions. Working smarter and more productively will allow you to seek out and identify new opportunities and to innovate. So, what changes can you make in order to get ahead and achieve more? This list of healthy work habits could just be the answer to ditching the stress and becoming more proactive at work.
We’ll start with an easy one! We all know we should be drinking more water for our health, to aid weight loss or to improve physical performance; but did you know that it has a profound effect on our brain functioning too? Fluid loss of just 1-3% counts as mild dehydration and can lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance. So, drink up whilst you’re at work!
A smartphone etiquette survey revealed that 80% of those surveyed said phone checking during a meeting was inappropriate, but the research also found that 50% of us do it anyway! What’s more, the survey showed that twenty percent of us check our phones at least once every twenty minutes whilst at work!
Regular notification checking can be a huge drain on our productivity. And it’s not just mobile phones. Work chats such as Slack and group emails can be just as distracting. Luckily, there are some solutions. Enable do not disturb modes, leave your mobile in your bag or give your nearest and dearest your work phone number to use in case of emergency.
Shooting for ‘inbox zero’
When it comes to your email inbox, it is paramount that you have some sort of system for organising. Whether it’s filing by client or project type, or a rule for colour flagging depending on status. Find a system that works for you and you may be amazed by the difference it makes to your daily working life. A great goal to aim for is keeping your inbox at zero. Do this by replying to emails straight away and deleting unnecessary ones. Any mail left in your inbox will then be what is in need of attention, almost like a to-do list.
Workout in your lunch hour
If you are lucky enough to have a gym within walking distance of your office, then consider signing up and using it, as it could just improve your productivity in the workplace. Exercising in your lunch break will see you benefit from regained focus and energy – ideal for preventing that unproductive mid-afternoon slump.
Take a walk
If you fret about working up too much of a sweat, then consider walking in your lunch break instead. The NHS recommendation is that you get 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week. That’s just five 30-minute sessions of low-level exercise. Gym or no gym, a simple brisk walk can be enough to raise your heartrate and fill your quota. It will lift your mood and re-energise you for the afternoon ahead.
In a survey of over 7,000 workers, 68% justified skipping their lunch break saying they had too much to do or an unexpected task to handle. Many of us are aware that we get out what we put in and that good food will fuel us best. However, desk lunches could be the undoing of that. Nutrition therapists report that eating at our desks has a host of negative effects including unhealthy snacking later in the day. It also deprives us of the sensory break our minds and bodies need to function productively.
Flexible working has been on the rise in recent years, and now ranks in the top three factors when making career decisions for ~40% of candidates. Choosing your working hours can have a profound impact on your proactiveness. If you are a morning person, starting at 7.30am could be the key to getting more out of your working day. Others may find a 10am start and a later finish is better for their proactiveness. An added bonus being that you can shift your working hours to avoid rush hour traffic and minimise your daily stress too.
The right kind of to-do list
As a project manager you are a serial multi-tasker, which is why it's so important to find a to-do list and personal scheduling system that works for you. Some swear by a notebook and diary – the satisfaction of crossing things off the list is hard to rival. For others, a kanban system for tracking task progress works best. However you plan your daily schedule, remember that allowing surplus or contingency time will help you feel less stressed when things run over, and ensure you are prepared should problems arise.
To find out more about proactive working practices take a look at our PRINCE2 Agile courses.