How To Break Free Of Reactionary Workflow

It’s a familiar problem: you’re so overwhelmed with dealing with the incoming stream of urgent email demands, Twitter updates, Facebook requests and other demands that nothing substantial ever gets done. Behance CEO Scott Belsky calls it “reactionary workflow”, and it’s probably ruining your life.

Belsky took part in a panel on the challenges of innovation and design at Ford’s HQ in Detroit, where I was visiting earlier in the week. His big message? Don’t get distracted by trivia:

We’re always managing stuff floating in, rather than being proactive in what matters most to us. We’re liable to drown in reactionary workflow if we don’t force ourselves to have those moments of sacred space.

A related problem is that we’re often so obsessed with deadlines that we don’t recognise the benefits of taking more time to properly solve the problem:

Whenever we have a project and something stalls it, it inevitably changes and gets better. It’s like this forced pause that does in fact improve. There’s this common idea to get it out there rapidly and get rapid feedback, and then the old-school ‘wait until it’s perfect’ concept gets neglected. It’s one of those battles of the modern age. Everything’s going to be fast and furious, and we’ve lost the ability to reflect in many cases.

So how do you solve that problem? Belsky’s answer is a familiar one for Lifehacker readers: set aside specific time to deal with Twitter, RSS, Facebook or whatever, and then ignore it outside those times:

For me, it’s just setting rules. I set up rules for myself: after this time, no more replying to Twitter. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.

While that might seem like obvious advice, it’s often hard to convince people, especially in creative industries, that such a regimented process pays dividends:

Most creativity is squandered. I’m very obsessed with the organisation needed around creativity. Organisation is often a dirty word in the creative world, but it’s the difference between an idea being in your head and actually happening.

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