We often get caught up in “putting out fires” at work. In fact, when consulting to and observing senior and middle level executives and managers, I often remark that we all missed our calling: we make superb fire-fighters!
But how often do we step back and examine why we have so many fires, deadlines that creep up, emergencies, and mistakes we are fixing? Not often!
So here is a suggestion that has worked well for me. It is something I now do instintively, but as it is likely not instinctive for many people, I suggest try making it a conscious habit.
Consider spending the first 30 minutes of your day foused on the future. Future deadlines, future projects, future events, future meetings. And on reflecting on the root cause of some of your fires and how you can prevent these mistakes and issues being repeated.
Yes, ignore the immediate fires and priorities for 30 minutes at the start of your day!
For each of these future items (because the “future” soon becomes the “present”, faster than we think), think of one thing you can set in motion right now. It could be a phone call, starting a presentation, a note to someone, some Google research, a plan of action, etc. Whatever you can fit into the 30 minute slot. The only criteria is that it can’t be one of your immediate “fires” or priorities – it has to be future based.
That’s it! Soon, when these future items roll around, you will be far better prepped, less overwhelmed, and much calmer about your work. The number of emergencies and fires will decline significantly.
Try it and let me know how it works out for you after doing it for a month. I am convinced your productivity will soar, your stress will plummet, and you will be more in control.