Firefighting

It seems to be a badge of honor among business people to describe in exhaustive details how crazy their work life is.  These stories cross all business sizes from Fortune 500 to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The fact is many business people work insane hours, are under enormous pressure, and live with outrageous deadlines.  In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.  In another study, Gallup found that 39% of the owners surveyed worked over 60 hours a week.

Add the pressure that business leaders are under to the hours worked, and you have a group of people who are seriously overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed

Many business leaders are fighting fires every day.

Their to-do lists extend to multiple pages, and they dread checking email because it seems to always arrive with more to do.    Anxiety keeps them from concentrating, and yet the same anxiety keeps them from not working on weekends and evenings.

And the unfortunate part is most of them do not have to be living this kind of business life.

How to Stop Fighting Fires

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, your goal should be to enjoy your work.  You need to have the time to see the fruits of your labor, meet with clients, get to know your employees well, and spend time away from work with the ones you love.

Going from firefighting to being a strategic leader takes time, and it starts with a routine of making daily decisions. 

Decide what is most important for today.  Simply put, you need to accept the fact that time is limited, so it’s crucial to optimize your time by doing what is most important.  And, just as importantly, stop doing the things that are not important.

What to Do

Here are six ideas that you can apply that will transform you from being overwhelmed to being the kind of forward-thinking leader your business needs you to be.

  1. Get clarity regarding your dreams, goals, and ambitions. Once you have a clearly defined goal, you can build the proper plan to get there. This is the first step in ensuring you are doing the right things to achieve your goals.
  2. Focus on what will make the biggest difference. Determine what you can do today that will have the greatest impact on having a successful tomorrow. If you only have time to tackle two things today, pick the two things that will set you up for success for the days ahead.
  3. Discern between busyness and productivity. You can stay busy – really, really, busy – but not be very productive. Take a close look at what is eating up your day, and be sure it is a worthwhile activity. Decide what will make you the most productive today.
  4. Recognize that priorities change every day. What was important yesterday may be completely different from what has become important today. Don’t force yourself into activities that are not truly a priority for today.
  5. Break down your annual goals into more manageable bits. Figure out what you need to do on a quarterly, monthly, or weekly basis to help you achieve that goal.
  6. Get into the right mindset about small action items. Do something productive today, even if it’s small, to keep your production attitude in practice.

The Bible

In the Gospels, Jesus shows us a way to prevent stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. He was the sinless Son of God, but He often went away by Himself to get away from large crowds—even from those that needed His help and healing.

In Mark 1:35, we read.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

When we are feeling overwhelmed, it’s helpful to remove ourselves from the stressful situation. We need to continually rely on God’s strength and pray for peace, knowing that He has promised to help us. Psalm 46:1–2 says.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

We do not have to be overwhelmed by our work.  Through good business practices, and through relying on God’s grace and patience, we can be transformed into being the strategic leaders our business needs us to be.