Are You The Company Fireman?

Written by Ashleigh Blatt, PMP

“The funny thing about firemen is, night and day, they are always firemen.” ~Gregory Widen, Backdraft

There are many people who are constantly running around putting out fires and living the mantra “if it’s not one thing, it’s another”. Unfortunately, having to put out fires on a regular basis is not only energy-zapping and time-wasting, but it is also a money drain on your business. The time spent on so-called fires takes away from the time spent on goal achieving, revenue-generating tasks for your company.

Are you constantly putting out fires? Do people come in your office or call you requesting immediate updates, help or answers? Did the work need to be completed yesterday?

The need to put out a fire, a genuine emergency, in your office happens to everyone. Having to consistently put out fires means something completely different: it represents a lack of priority setting and lack of communication.

Priority setting is important in all businesses, but it is sometimes forgotten by the business owner. Setting a priority is when something (i.e. a goal) is deemed more important than something else. What are the priorities in your office? Who set them? Why are these priorities higher than others? These are important questions to obtain answers to because when priorities are set and communicated, teams know what work will be focused on, what actions need to be addressed immediately and what changes can postponed for now.

If you are consistently putting out fires, you are managing your world as it comes to you instead of managing your priorities. To achieve success and fulfillment in your project, your goals, and/or your dreams, one must set priorities not only to have something to work towards, but also to have a scale to measure incoming work and distractions. With a priority scale in place, when something new comes in, you can more easily determine where it fits into your task list for the short term, the medium term, or the long term.

Don’t forget to communicate your priorities to your colleagues, teams and customers. Communicating the order of importance puts them in higher regard and keeps everybody focused.

Always having to put out fires is a waste of valuable time, energy, and company money. Working in a structured manner not only assists you in reaching your goals faster, but also allows the person and team to preserve their energy for a more balanced lifestyle.

Ashleigh Blatt ( is coach, consultant and professional speaker who works with business owners and executives who are overwhelmed and tired of spinning their wheels.  Using her natural ability to get to the root of the situation, Ashleigh optimizes business processes, time management and team communication to create a profitable and balanced work lifestyle.


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