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Work Smart

The Firefighter

Which Type Are You?

The Firefighter

[Illustration by Francesco Muzzi]

When you're at work, you're on, putting out one blaze after another, without distraction or delay.

Role model:

FEMA head Craig Fugate. Confirmed by the Senate in 2009, Fugate has turned a disastrous department into a point of problem-solving pride.


Make your best work friend be a contemplative soul. Why? As Kellogg professor Thompson says, you'll provide a complementary contrast to each other. And as much as you can, relax. "The best way to put out a fire is with equanimity from as centered a place as possible," says Huffington Post president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington.

Got 15 minutes to spare?

A brief period of mindfulness "allows things to flow out of the mind rather than preoccupy it," says Dawa Tarchin Phillips, CEO of Empowerment Holdings, a mindfulness-based leadership program. In that release, "mental and emotional real estate open up."

Killer app combo:

Use to quickly swipe off tasks as they're completed, and at the end of the day, iDoneThis will send an email reminder asking what you accomplished, finally giving you a moment to stop, reflect, and plan as needed. More apps for the Firefighter>>

For more productivity tips, go to, and join our ongoing conversation on Twitter at #worksmarter.

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A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.