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[45] Reactive vs Proactive Work


In this modern world – full of technology – it’s easier than ever to get caught in a reactive loop.

This reactive loop stops you from getting proactive work done – and in order to run your creative business well you need to find balance between the two forms of work.

Neither one is ‘bad’ or ‘good’ – in fact, some of your most important work will be reactive (like filling orders) but when we tip the balance too far into reactive work, our business stagnates, and we risk burning out because we’re always on someone else’s schedule instead of our own.

In this episode, I take you through some important steps you need to consider in order to recognise reactive work so you can keep it under control, and make more time for the proactive aspect of your business.



Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • A great read on this subject is the book ‘Manage Your Day to Day‘ by 99U.
  • There is a cost that comes with our connectivity.
  • There is a pressure to always be available and always responding.
  • You need to schedule time offline to spend with your family or even just yourself – it is so important.
  • ‘Connectivity is crucial for an online business’. {Jess}
  • Spending time on social media can easily become reactive instead of proactive.
  • While you should try and respond within 24 hours, you should not feel pressure to respond immediately.
  • You need to stop ‘checking’ you emails and start ‘processing’ your emails.
  • Inbox Zero Method – how I manage my emails.
  • Many of us do far too much reactive work, especially when we are our busiest.
  • It is easy for proactive work to fall by the wayside.
  • This funny skit from Portlandia is so true!
  • ‘We are looking for something outside of us to give us something to respond to rather than sitting back, turning inwards, and focusing on what we can create and give out’. {Jess}
  • Proactive work is anything you do on top of work that is reactive.
  • So what is reactive work? Checking emails, checking social media, checking blog comments, email newsletter stats and filling orders.
  • Example of proactive work: logging into your email to send planned emails, logging into social media to deliberately share or update, writing content, designing, photography, PR work, and planning.
  • Some reactive tasks are really important, however they can expand to fill all the time you allow them to.
  • ‘Proactive work only happens when we deliberately carve out the time and space for it’. {Jess}
  • When we are caught in a reactive loop other aspects of our lives can suffer such as exercise or time with family and friends.
  • ‘There have to be boundaries with anything in life and in business’. {Jess}
  • You can’t let things linger – so don’t look until you are ready to actually process the task.
  • You have to structure yourself to have set time to complete the reactive work.
  • You need to set boundaries so that you are not dragged back into the loop.
  • If you are making space you need to work out what you are making that space for.
  • Both reactive and proactive work are important so you need to make sure you have the right balance.
  • Nothing is carved in stone. There will be times you need to bend or break the rules, and that’s okay – so long as you’re doing it mindfully.


Download/Listen to this Episode


(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)


Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.

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