How do you manage interruptions, unplanned matters and fire drills?
You’ve planned your day. Prioritized your projects and lists. Allotted time for stretch breaks, emails and social media checks.
Then it happens. The alarms sound and in an instant, you’re called to leave all other projects to put out a fire – or two, maybe three or four.
You’re now flustered. Your cortisol levels are spiking, suddenly thrust into a flight or fight response. Your perfectly laid daily plan has been thwarted.
What do you do?
Here are some tips to help you out out the fires and get back on track.
Breathe. When anxiety and stress fill your being, take a deep breath. You can’t accomplish anything if your mind is spinning and your heart is racing. Stop. Breathe. And remember that it is your reaction that makes all the difference. You can’t change it, but you can tackle it.
Ask the question: how critical is this? Someone else’s lack of planning does not constitute your emergency. Assess the true nature of the request to determine if it does require immediate attention – or if it can be delegated or pushed to another time in the day or week.
Offer a solution. Saying no may not be possible and if that’s the case, find the how: how can I help you, then lay out an action plan with a timeline to meet the needs – and put out the fire.
Regroup. Now that you’ve established a plan, get back to your tasks at hand. Don’t dwell on the chaos or feed into the emotions of others. You asked the right questions, put a plan in place and now it’s time to resume your regularly scheduled programming.