Always Putting Out Fires? Work Smarter.

Working hard and not seeing results? Too busy to think? Always putting out fires? Professor Lynn Isabella of the University of Virginia Darden School says if you find yourself spending most of your time “putting out fires”, then you need three things to get results.

First, you need a ‘fire house’. This is a place that provides you with the time and space to gain perspective, build relationships, learn and reflect. Professor Isabella says you fire house could be ‘no email or phone time’, or setting aside a quiet interval to simply think. She says it should be a ‘place’ that provides a kind of deep learning which will change the way you think and behave.

Second, she says you need to have ‘fire house’ time for yourself. Not necessarily a lot of time, but ways you can spend more time in your ‘fire house’. You could arrive at work 15 minutes early and reflect on the tasks of the day, talk to coworkers about their challenges, or send a note to someone’s family member who may be sick. However you achieve it, the goal is to find ‘fire house’ time.

Finally, according to Professor Isabella, in addition to creating ‘fire house’ time for yourself, you need to give ‘fire house’ time to those who work for you. They need time to learn new skills, practice, and absorb new challenges. You can view her full comments here.