I did pretty well at school by most measures, but one thing I was DREADFUL at, was working proactively.
This caused me a lot of avoidable stress.
Whenever I had a big piece of coursework, or exams to revise for, I would leave it all to the last possible minute.
The thought of it would stress me out, so I'd just continue putting it off. It made me feel uneasy and anxious.
Instead of just starting it, I'd let the pressure build up to the point where I could no longer bear it. Every time one of my friends would speak to me about the exams or coursework, I'd feel sick and change the subject.
When I did eventually make a start, I was working at 100 miles per hour, cramming work into marathon night time sessions, reading notes on the bus, and locking myself away.
It worked for me, and I pulled through, but I'm sure I could have done a lot better and saved myself a lot of stress if I'd just been proactive about it all.
The same lessons can be applied in other areas of life
Do you think you could lower your likelihood of experiencing future medical emergencies by taking a proactive approach to your health?
What about avoiding financial struggles by saving and making wise choices like investing in a pension plan?
Would you expect the car that is never serviced to outlast the one that has a service every year?
You can avoid stress at work by regularly spending time on planning and prep work. Instead of doing last minute preparations for meetings, you would deliver a much better presentation if you were relaxed, calm and prepared, having done all the work weeks ago. This allows you to do final preparations and practice leading up to the event, tweaking and optimising your material to make it perfect.
Quadrant 2 is Proactive, Quadrants 1 and 3 are Reactive
Covey's four quadrants support this argument.
Being proactive (Quadrant 2), prevents emergencies and crises (Quadrant 1), but it also prevents low level interruptions and distractions (Quadrant 3).
For example, training employees and ingraining company culture and values will prevent them from coming to you every time they have a problem. If you do the necessary work up front, you will develop your staff to the point where they don't need you to make all of the important final calls. This prevents emails, meeting requests and phone calls - all Quadrant 3 distractions.
Managing Your IT Systems Should be Largely a Quadrant 2 Activity
The health of your IT infrastructure should also be managed proactively.
You might have a reactive IT partner who seems to "do a lot" because there's always problems for them to fix. It can feel like you rely on them. They will only ever fire-fight. Many of the issues you run into could be prevented if they worked proactively. However, it's not in their interests to do this because you pay them by the hour to fix problems, and a proactive approach would mean less work for them.
Businesses that have a proactive IT Support partner are far less likely to run into IT problems - from low level disruption such as being unable to print, to IT disasters.
You would usually pay a fixed monthly amount to include all proactive work, and also any reactive work that is needed from time to time. The IT partner will then provide reports of proactive actions carried out, in as much detail as you want.
It may seem slightly more expensive at first, but the value of you and all employees being able to work free from IT related disruptions, means this works out cheaper for your business, and is actually an investment.
By aligning with a proactive IT Support partner, you are investing in the productivity of your business.