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The Zero Stress 5-Step Process for Handling Work Day Emergencies

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Handling Work Day Emergencies

Emergency!

It’s a word that strikes us with a combination of anticipation, excitement, anxiety, dread and a whole host of other emotions.

And they happen to everyone, especially in the work place.

Business owners and entrepreneurs jokingly call them the “crisis of the day” or, “strategic opportunities”. However you want to think about work day emergencies, they happen – and you need to be equipped to handle them. This article will show you how.

Generally speaking, crisis management is not a good way to run a company, household, government, nation, or organization of any sort. We really don’t want to run or govern by crisis – we want to systemize and correct failure points and faults before they occur.

But sometimes, bad things do happen. That’s just the way it is. And here’s how we handle it.

1. Recognize the Emergency

recognize-emergency

The first part to handling a work day emergency is to recognize that it’s happening.

This is harder than it sounds. Very often, we get wrapped up in our daily responsibilities or are “plugged in” to whatever project we are focusing on that we completely miss emergencies (and opportunities) that fly right by us. Usually the ones that we notice are the ones that impact a mission-critical part of the business – say payment systems going down or a fire breaking out in the building.

Whenever and however you come across the emergency, the first thing you need to do is to realize that it is an emergency that needs to be handled, and to stay calm about it. You will get a rush of emotions that goes through you – this is normal and expected, everybody gets this.

It’s what you do next that determines whether the emergency derails you or not.

2. Inventory Assessment

Inventory Assessment

Once you’ve identified that an emergency is going on and needs to be resolved, you need to immediately write down what you are working on.

For example, you may be in the middle of composing an important email to a client.

In the email itself, you want to write down:
“UP TO HERE. NEED TO DISCUSS POINTS 4, 5, 6 IN FURTHER DETAIL BEFORE SENDING”

Or you may be brainstorming solutions to a business problem, and you need to write down 5-6 keywords for the ideas that you have in your mind but haven’t fleshed out just yet.

This first part of an Inventory Assessment is important as I almost guarantee that if you go ahead and leave things and tackle the emergency, when you come back later you will have forgotten what you were working on.

You then want to assess the situation – find out exactly what is going on, note down the important facts, note both the elephants and the ants in the room, and get a feel for the emotional current in both yourself and others responding to the emergency.

For yourself, you want to remain calm, breathe, drink some water and focus in on the emergency.

3. Let Somebody Know

Let Somebody Know

The third crucial step in handling a work day emergency is to Let Somebody Know You Are Going to Handle It.

This is simple – tell someone else what you’re going to go tackle and what you were doing before.

Why do this?

It makes you accountable for it. It lets other people know what you were doing, and it gives you a reference point when you do return to your regular duties.

4. Handle the Emergency

Handle Emergency

Now we get to the fun part – handling the emergency.

There are a lot of different ways to do this and it does change a little depending on what’s going on, but we have one specific way that we recommend in the Productivity Blueprint (which is coming out soon).

5. Continue Where You Left Off

Continue Where Left Off

When you’re done and back from handling the emergency, it’s to continue where you left off.

Note that you don’t actually have to resolve the emergency in its entirety before returning to other work – sometimes you’ll find that they can’t be resolved in one session, or you need to wait on other people to do certain things before it is completely resolved. The beauty of this process is that you can jump in-and-out of your regular work flow and tackle components of the emergency as needed.

So when you return, you can and should do 2 things:

  1. Look at your written inventory assessment and query your mind about what you were up to.
  2. Talk to the person you notified before you went to handle the emergency.

Next Steps

And that’s all there is to handling work day emergencies – a simple and very straightforward process.

If you want more detail, we teach an expanded version of it in our online course, the Productivity Blueprint. Sign up below for updates and when we release this course you’ll be among the first to know about it.

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2 Comments

Posted by Kathryn Dilligard  | January 28, 2014 at 6:22AM | Reply

Thanks! I’ll keep these in mind when I encounter emergencies at work.

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | January 29, 2014 at 5:15AM

You’re welcome Kathryn!

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