If you work in IT, you’re probably quite used fire-fighthing – dropping everything and rushing to tackle the next emergency. That can be just how things are in IT sometimes, but mostly, its a mentality, a culture. A lot of organisations seem to almost thrive on fire-fighting. After all, it’s about crisis management, getting the adrenalin going and embracing constraints which force you and the team around you to get things done in a hurry.
What its important to realise (and it may seem obvious to state this) is that such a culture isn’t sustainable. People tend to get to the point where they almost become “numb” from dealing with emergencies. That’s why I think your down-time (non emergency-time) shouldn’t just be on doing new things. It should be about continuous improvement, with the singular goal of reducing the number of fires. You know preventative things like making your servers more robust, and a better testing/release process to catch those horrible bugs. A culture of fire-fighting can end up sabotaging these efforts, as it tends to push such efforts aside with the belief that it is just easier to fix the next problem when it comes up.
Don’t get caught in the cycle.