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a blog by Chris Barrow

Firefighting and The Eisenhower Matrix revisited

Following on from yesterday's theme of "the 3 biggest challenges" facing my clients, number #2 can be summarised as:

"I'm too busy firefighting to make any progress."

That word - firefighting - has appeared quite a few times in the last 10 days.

It's a word used by Owners and Managers who are unable to fulfil their most important strategic and tactical responsibilities.

Let's remind ourselves very quickly of the Eisenhower Matrix, made famous by Stephen Covey (see today's graphic).

Owners and Managers should spend at least one full day every week in the "Important but not Urgent" quadrant - that's where you work ON your business and not IN your business.

That's where your business grows .

That's where future profits originate.

At the moment, many of my clients are stuck in the "Urgent and Important", as well as the "Urgent but not Important" quadrants.

Owners delivering too much clinical time to deal with the queue or delivering the wrong type of (less profitable) dentistry.

Managers covering reception and/or nursing, or just bombarded with "have you got a minute" or "I know you said not to be interrupted but....."

I blame it on "summer month syndrome" as well as the current workplace and economy:

  • Team members coming from and going to vacations;

  • Everyone's kids home from school;

  • Another outbreak of nationwide pregnancy;

  • Unprecedented patient demand due to lack of access;

  • Rising costs and interest rates;

  • Lack of response to recruitment marketing and advertising.

You'll see from the graphic that "Important but not Urgent" only gets done if it is scheduled.

It's the scheduling that has fallen off the tracks.

When my clients tell me that they are firefighting, I ask them to go back in a re-zone their calendars, so that they have protected time to work ON their business.

We may not be able to afford the luxury of a full day a week until September - but 90 minutes every day has the capacity to replace that, provided it is really protected - DND.

That might mean working from home (although the kids can bugger that up) or getting off site to a local hot desking facility or coffee shop/hotel lounge.

It's a false economy to defer the "Urgent but not Important" work in the face of "Urgent and Important". Gradually, you build a sense of losing control of your business, that saps self-confidence and you enter a downward spiral.

Pull out of the dive NOW.

Take your diary and plan your 90-minutes a day from now until the end of August - and then restore your full day a week from September - no matter what.

Communicate to everyone around you, personally and professionally, that this is the way it's going to be - period.

Read more about The Eisenhower Matrix HERE.

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