Proactive vs. Reactive: Which is Better?

There are two types of people in this world. Proactive and reactive.

I’m the type of person who fills up the ice cube tray as soon as it’s empty. Who changes the toilet paper roll without waiting for someone else to step up. Who folds laundry as soon as it’s dry because ya know, that’s just how I roll. In other words, I don’t just do things when life forces me to, I use my own free will to take action.

Here’s a classic scenario. I remember this well from years of working in chaotic offices. Your boss calls you into their office and claims to have the paperwork you’ve been waiting on. You arrive, only to wait while they juggle tasks for ten minutes. They run to the bathroom, put out a fire, take a phone call, answer an email and then finally confess they still need to find it. Then, they have the nerve to spend another five minutes rummaging around while you’re stuck there, only to ask you to come back in a half hour when they free up.

A proactive person would have stopped what they were doing and located the paperwork in advance before calling you in. A reactive person is always going to wait until the last possible moment to address the need at hand. Although in each instance, the same task is being accomplished, the reactive person is much less efficient.

I’ll admit, there are seemingly far more reactive folks out there than proactive folks. It’s hard to make an argument to get stuff done ahead of time when you have the option to put it off. Whether you’re reactive or proactive, the end result is still the same: it gets done. The bill gets paid, you feed yourself, life goes on.

Not that I don’t share the same desire to procrastinate as the rest of the world, but I’ll fill ya in on why I’m on Team Just-Do-It all the way. For one, the sense of accomplishment gained from accomplishing a task as it arises is ultra fulfilling. Checking the task off is going to relieve you of the nagging stress and anxiety of having to pile items into an overflowing queue that you may not ever get to unless the need is imminent. This instant fulfillment will fuel your momentum and keep your productivity streak going.

Getting stuff done feels good, we can all relate to that.

To add to the feeling of liberation us get-shit-done-ers can boast about, we can also make the claim that in the long run, we’ll run into less obstacles than those who wait it out. If we fill up our gas tank in advance, there’s less chance we’ll break down. If we prep for a project, there’s less change we’ll miss our deadline. The obvious benefits of being proactive are taken for granted. Why spend time cleaning up a mess when you can prevent it in the first place?

We all have the same 168 hours in a week. How we choose to spend them is a choice. If we can increase efficiency knocking out the small stuff, we’ll have more time for the things that really matter.

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