7 ways to stop FIREFIGHTING at work and PROGRESS in your career
Published: 6th of April 2021
Do you want to progress in your career but you’re so busy firefighting in your current role that you can’t see a way forward?
Here’s what often happens with parents.
1. You have a child, want a better work/life balance, and choose to change from full-time to part-time working hours.
2. Often, you go back to the same job and attempt to do it on 3 or 4 days a week. Or you may job share your old role or even be demoted to accommodate part-time working.
3. A year or two later, you are running around like a headless chicken, trying to do the same job with significantly fewer hours and without not able to put in the extra hours you used to do by staying late, attending those evening networking events or having the time to do that extra training and develop you used to fit in.
Does this resonate with you?
Pre-baby I used to look at the parents that I worked with as they flew in and out of the office to and from child pick-ups and drop-offs and thinking they were pretty chaotic.
Now I understand the massive juggling act that just SURVIVINH parenting takes, let alone THRIVING as a professional AND a parent.
But It’s not impossible.
It’s absolutely possible to progress in your career, without sacrificing family life.
And here are a few tips that could help you to stop the frantic firefighting and develop your career.
- Lower your hand
If someone asks for a volunteer to take minutes, don’t be the first person to put your hand up. If a colleague needs help but you’re just as overwhelmed as them, avoid the temptation to rescue them.
It doesn’t mean you’re cruel or heartless, it’s about valuing yourself as much as valuing others and learning to say no. Lowering your hand (especially for work below your paygrade) will allow you to free up space to develop your career
- Respect your time
If your manager wants you to complete a task by tomorrow but you’re leaving for school pick-up in half an hour and don’t work the next day, be upfront and honest about it. Remember, they don’t pay you on your ‘day off’ so you have no obligation to put in those extra hours.
I know there will be occasions with urgent work but consider asking the following questions:
- Can someone else do this (or at least support with it)?
- Can the deadline be extended?
- Can the task be reduced or simplified? (Ie can you submit a draft proposal or overview first?)
- Don’t go it alone
The most successful people aren’t successful because they DO EVERYTHING. They are successful because they get the team around them and delegate to the right people.
Don’t do it all yourself, or you’ll be a victim of your own ‘busy-ness’. Delegate and reach out for support, from those with the relevant skills, to make the most of your time.
- Know your limitations
Perhaps you’re not as organised as you’d like to be or maybe you like to be so organised that you can’t deal with lastminute changes. We all have strengths and weaknesses and being aware of this is the first step.
Then gradually building in strategies for improving, whether that be training from a colleague, a course or using techniques that work for you. A top tip is to ask someone who you admire who has that particular skillset or approach to impart their wisdom onto you.
If you’re not sure about your limitations, try taking a brave step and asking for feedback. Ask a close friend first if you’re wary about asking your manager or colleagues.
- Don’t start with your inbox
You’re ready to start a new week, you open your inbox and suddenly you’ve lost half a morning getting distracted by workplace politics and 10 different projects, 5 of which you’re not even involved in.
At the very least, spent one minute before you open Outlook planning 3 priorities for your day. Perhaps scan for urgent emails if you really have to and then make sure you get the most important things done.
If you’d like help with prioritising, you might like to read my blog: Are you doing the most important thing first?
- Don’t forget YOU!
When you’re prioritising your workload, don’t forget that one of those important things is YOU!
Whether it’s making sure you take a walk at lunchtime to keep you well and fresh or whether it’s asking your manager to be part of that career development opportunity.
If you don’t take a proactive role in your career, then no one else is going to do it for you.
Remember, your boss won’t be lying awake worried about YOUR career!
- Consider a new career
If your workload is feeling impossible and you have zero support from your manager or team around you, then it might be time to vote with your feet.
Sure, there are strategies you can employ to reduce the firefighting, be more efficient and create space for your development……but if your priorities are really jarring and the company ethos is never going to fit the life you want, it might be time to take on the next adventure.
If you’d like support with creating a plan to progress in your career, without sacrificing your family life, please do book a free 60 MInute Career Strategy Call with me.
P.S. Have you joined my FREE Career Clarity for Working Parents Facebook group? It's packed full of top tips to keep you motivated and on track for moving forward in your career.