Does growing your firm feeling like constant firefighting? Maybe that even seems fun at times? Less excitingly, time management is about controlling the fires, before they need fighting. If you are not tired of firefighting, read this article with nine tips for effective time management.Fires, firefighting and time management

Firefighting can feel exciting. You’re dealing with loads of things at once, your staff are impressed with your skills, as they get sucked into the trap too. A big improvement from the feast and famine stage of your firm’s development that you’ve left behind.

But then the mixture of problems, opportunities, ideas and priorities swirls around you so fast it’s hard to know which way to turn. Your head knows the difference between important and urgent, but it all blurs into one. You just about deal with one thing, and two more jump up at you like a pack of enthusiastic lLabradors that can’t be held back. There’s no one thing really wrong, but so many things going on all at once. As Henry Ford once said:

There are no big problems; there are just a lot of little problems.

Firefighting and business development.Fire Engine as a metaphor for firefighting and time management

Firefighting and needing to be a firefighter is part of a cycle that many firms go through as they mature. This article is part of a series on "Growing Pains", a business development model we often use with clients.

The real problem is that firefighting can become a way to excuse yourself from what you need to be doing and be misled to thinking you’re doing what you are supposed to. Fires are not supposed to be regular occurrences but abnormalities occurring once in a while.

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.

The seductive problem of firefighting

The real problem is normally the people in charge. When fighting fires, you’re not developing a plan to move forwards – that’s bad time management. Most people deplore the firefighting management style, yet many perpetuate it because of the adrenalin and feeling of self-value it can generate.

Normally it’s the absence of a vision and plan that cause your firm to be so reactive, meaning you spend a lot of time firefighting rather than proactively meeting the needs of your clients. Like the Accountants who just get their clients tax returns in a day ahead of the deadline, despite having the information for six months.

9 tips to stop firefighting

  1. Start with the end in mind. Don’t try and improve things from as they are, think about how they need to be and work backwards.
  2. Where are you going?  Get a clear vision and plan.
  3. What things do you need to create/ fix/ do this year to get there?
  4. What is the most important thing you should be doing this month?
  5. What single step will keep you heading to your plan, this week?
  6. Focus on improving your “Time Management“.  Download our free guide to Time Management, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).
  7. How can you delegate more of what you’re doing to others?
  8. How can you step towards the future roles of your team, now?
  9. Stop wasting time with prospects that have very little chance of becoming clients. Improving your sales process could get you out of firefighting.

What has helped you avoid firefighting, or what is it that makes you enjoy it?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access