Acting or Reacting? What’s the Difference?

Just for clarity’s sake, let’s define these two ideas:

phone, act or react, goals, planner

Why You Want to Act Instead of React

Imagine the day ahead of you. It’s morning and you’re just getting up.

How soon before you check your phone?

And then what do you do after you check it?

And by the way, how much time are you spending on your phone “just checking”?

Have you taken a shower yet? Gotten dressed? Had breakfast? Have you even gotten out of bed at this point?

If this is the way you live your life (and by the way, it isn’t just your phone competing for your attention – there are lots of things that are), by reacting to whatever happens in the moment, you really aren’t getting a lot done. (Note: small children do not apply in this scenario. If they need you, you react. Done.)

You might think you’re being productive – you certainly feel busy and maybe even a bit frazzled – but you’re not.

Contrast that morning to this one:

You just woke up. You shower and get dressed in the clothes that you laid out the night before (or over the weekend).

You go into the kitchen to make breakfast and pick up your phone. You don’t keep it in the bedroom because the blue light it emits can disturb your sleep and cause insomnia.

You check your messages and emails while you eat. Barring a major disaster, you will answer everything at the appointed time that you have set. This lets you get on with your morning. In all, you’ve spent maybe a couple of minutes on your phone.

The rest of the day proceeds just as smoothly.

You have goals: big ones for the year, and smaller monthly and weekly goals, all laid out in your planner.

Emails and messages get answered twice a day, based on your schedule. You have an automated reply to each email letting the sender know when to expect your reply. Phone calls can be treated in a similar manner for the most part.

You spend some time over the weekend assessing last week’s progress, made notes on things that didn’t get done or need attention, and planned the following week.

You have your 3 most important tasks set for the day, and they take priority. You do your most important work when you know that you are at your best mentally. You save other tasks for when you’re not at 100%.

Can you see that this way you will actually get things done, and they will be things that are important to you? That you will be making real progress, and directing your day rather than letting it direct you?

Sure, you may miss a few things here and there – some silly posts on Facebook or the latest joke or gossip – but what are you really missing?

Where to Begin

This is a big subject, worthy of it’s own post.

But let’s start small.

What’s one thing that seems to run your life? (Your kids really don’t count.)

I bet for a lot of us it’s our phone.

Now I set a goal this year to be one of those people who lived by their phone. I did this because I recognized that so much of what we do and need can be stored and accessed on our phone. We really can get a lot done with it.

But the key here is to do it on your terms.

Now you’re on your way to acting instead of reacting, and that’s a good thing.

More to come.

Tell me what you think!

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