Eliminating Reactionary Work by Working Smart

Eliminating Reactionary Work by Working Smart

Too much to do. Changing expectations. Competing priorities. Flavor of the Month. Scope creep. Do these sound familiar?

In today’s fast-changing work environment most of us have to constantly juggle an increasing amount of work. Good, responsible, and hard working people usually respond to the escalating workload with a simple strategy: Do More.

The “Do More” strategy requires that we work harder. This usually means spending more time at work, taking fewer breaks, creating extensive “To Do” lists, and staying busy checking things off. In the attempt to become everything to everyone, we take many personal life hits. “Oh well!” we might say as we shrugged off the stress.

The problem with the “Do More” approach is that it leads to reactionary work. We get really busy doing lots of things that may be of questionable value. The lack of focus inherent in reactionary work is a main cause of why smart people do dumb things.

Instead of allowing reactionary work to dictate what they do, the most productive people use the “Work Smart” approach. Despite what goes on around them, they stay focused on executing the most critical priorities. They filter the noise and respond deliberately.

Key Point If you are feeling tired of doing more with less, try for a change to work smart. Research suggests that over 75% of what we do at work is simply reactionary work. There is a difference between staying busy and being productive. In order to get more done in less time, we need to focus on priorities. Do what matters most to achieve more with less.

Looking at a regular work week, what percentage of time do you spend in the “Do More” versus the “Work Smart” mode? What can you do to reduce reactionary work at work and in your life?

The “Work Smart” approach requires that we regularly review commitment against changing priorities. We need to clarify the relative value of new demands against existing goals.

To apply the “Work Smart” steps requires that we reassess changing priorities. Visual management boards help us track planed versus actual performance in real time. Kanban boards help visualize the workload to the team’s capacity.

How we respond to reactionary work determines whether we continue to do more with less, or work smart.

We help others decide what is most important. We say “no” to reactionary work in a way that make us more valuable to peers and the organization.

To prepare yourself to respond effectively to reactionary work we must focus on priorities. We need to anticipate the likely situations we will encounter and plan our responses in advance.

Using “Work Smart” conversation cues help us learn how to say “Yes” appropriately. We can say “Yes” in a way that obtains a reciprocal commitment from the other person. We can say “Yes” to other’s requests while saying “No” to reactionary work in a way that we are still valued.

How we respond to reactionary work determines whether we continue to do more with less, or work smart.


Work Smart

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