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How To Stop ‘Firefighting’ And Start Achieving

Do you find yourself making any of the statements below? Do you hear your team saying some of these statements too?

  • ‘I never get anything done.’
  • ‘I’ve worked for ten hours straight and I’ve achieved nothing!’
  • ‘I’ll make time for that.’
  • ‘These meetings are such a waste of time.’
  • ‘I need this ASAP.’
  • ‘No rush.’
  • ‘I need to be there for my clients.’
  • ‘I have an open door policy.’

The statements you use reveal much about your beliefs about time. It is important that we are the master of our beliefs rather than them being the master of us.

It’s not, in the main, that our beliefs are wrong; it’s more that they tend to be black or white. We need them to sit inside a range rather than inside a box. So, for example, ‘I have an open door policy’ becomes ‘I will be available for my team for 85% of the day’; for 15% I will focus entirely on one of my critical tasks’.

When you manage your beliefs, you manage your attitudes. And since attitudes drive your behaviours/actions, it is only when you are able to manage your attitudes that you will be able to manage your time productively.

When you can manage your attitudes, then techniques, tools and strategies to increase your time management and productivity levels can work effectively.

The proportion of proactive and reactive work differs for different roles. The ‘trick’ is to ensure it differs for different roles and not for different people in identical roles.

Managers will have a significant amount of both proactive and reactive work. There is reactive work in supporting the team and dealing with difficult client issues. Significant time needs to be allowed for these reactive tasks, i.e. if you have your entire day mapped out on proactive tasks you are setting yourself up for failure. You need ‘free’ blocks in your schedule so that when reactive work arises you can deal with it and still complete your proactive tasks.

Of course, on some days there will be so much crisis reactive work that you won’t be able to complete all of your proactive tasks. However, don’t let this be an excuse not to plan proactive work – when your plan works 80% of the time that’s an ‘A pass’.

Motivated account managers and customer service people can think ahead and pre-empt situations, seeking ways to maximise the proactive part of their role. They can initiate conversations that add value to the customer rather than waiting for the customer to call with an issue.

Sometimes they believe, often falsely, that ‘clearly the customer is happy if I haven’t heard from them.’ Maybe they are, or maybe they’re busy evaluating your competitors and making the decision to move?

Being proactive can directly impact your business bottom line.

To your success,