Work Smart: Overcoming "Reactionary Workflow" To Make Your Vision A Reality

Stop living someone else's to-do list.

There's a difference between simply working and pushing forward the bold ideas and large projects that you want to execute. No matter how great the idea is, there are obstacles you'll have to overcome in order to make the vision a reality. And one of the greatest obstacles is "reactionary workflow"—that constant influx of messages, to-do items, and interruptions that are part of every day. I'll show you a few ways to become proactive instead of reactive and keep your long term goals alive.  

Scott is the author of the national best-selling book Making Ideas Happen and CEO of Behance, a company that develops products and services for creative industries. Behance's products include the Behance Network, the world's leading platform for creative professionals to showcase their work, and The 99%, a think tank and annual conference focused on leadership and execution in the creative world.

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  • Ben

    Thanks Scott for a great video, albeit a largely bittersweet one to swallow for me. Bitter, because this is exactly the type of person / workflow I live every day. My life seems controlled by the constant incoming of messages, requests etc 

    After listening to your points, I am absolutely working on someone else's todo list, which has to stop.

    The good news is that starts today. Cheers, Scott.

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    Great points. You will never get a raise or promotion for replying to 100% of email, and you sure as hell won't get a sense of satisfaction for that. Scott is right to identify a short list of high-value projects (I recommend 3 - 5 per day) and block out time to work on them away from email and the phone. I agree with Eric Rice, below, that it can be very helpful to hide in conference room or cafe. 

    Also, you train your co-workers and clients what to expect. Most don't really need 30 second turnaround on their requests, and if they do, they come to your desk or call. You can train them to expect several hours to several days for normal transactions, this allows you to process in batches, which is more efficient. 

    Lastly, don't let the inbox be the to do list. Important items in your inbox should be tracked in your paper or software list elsewhere.

    David Kaiser, PhDExecutive Coachwww.DarkMatterConsulting.comEvery Hero and Heroine has a GuideArthur had MerlinLuke had Obi-WanBuffy had GilesYou have MeTime to be Extraordinary!

  • Eric Rice

    This is definitely a problem I face. One way of making "quiet creative time" happen for me is to take my laptop and retreat somewhere that people can't find me - an unused conference room, a favorite spot outside, or even telecommuting for a morning, to make sure there's space for me to push on deeper tasks. I try to make sure I have a full charge on my laptop at all times so I can take advantage of the opportunities as they arise.

    More importantly, though, is to keep the medium-term reactive stuff off the list for that quiet time. It's easy to build your list of "to do in the next week" off of email and office visits that gets worked in your quiet time, but doesn't advance the core creative concepts ... and then you're just being reactive on a slower schedule.

  • Jamil Buie

    I try my best to do this but the :sand in your shoe" requests always seem to pop up just as I am getting into my groove.