Ever wondered how come pilots in big commercial aircraft manage hundreds of indicators, switches, knobs, and sound warnings while they fly? Are they looking at all of them and flying? They must be super humans!
No. They don’t have to look at all of them constantly. There are critical indicators at every stage of flying that need to be monitored carefully which would ultimately warrant subsequent actions (computerized auto-flight instruments have largely reduced this burden too). It does not mean that pilots are unaware of other indicators while they are monitoring the critical ones. It is about priority where attention needs to be focused. Priority is set based on urgency of action. As long as critical indicators are alright, you may not need to closely monitor all other indicators. This is called the principle of exception (or management by exception) where attention and actions are directed once critical indicators show exceptions of the norm.
Like an aircraft’s dashboard, we all should have our own management dashboard where we put important indicators that need to be monitored all the time. Find out critical indicators and take care of them first. This does not mean that you have to be a reactive manager and not a proactive one. Once you have taken care of your critical exceptions, you can spend time on preventing other “normal” indicators from getting beyond the critical range. While the management by exception could be termed “reactive”, spending time on that imaginary dashboard and taking care of all other “indicators” must be proactive.
How does your dashboard look like?