We have all started our day with the best laid plans, only to walk into the office and these to be derailed by a client email or a colleague bursting into our office with an “emergency”.  Helene Vermaak, Business Director at corporate culture specialists, The Human Edge, says that these legitimate emergencies can disrupt our to-do-list and put most people into a spin.

In a world where instant gratification has become the norm, we are expected to embrace any changes without consequences.  We all know that the world we live in brings surprises every day, but preparing for these in the office can go a long way to limiting potential chaos.

“Firstly,” Vermaak says, “we need to determine if the interruption is something for which we are accountable.  If not, and the problem has landed on your desk you will need to have a crucial conversation with your team member or leader so that it is rerouted correctly.” This could be difficult if the organisation does not have a culture of accountability.  If employees or leaders do not feel empowered to speak-up, they may take on tasks that are not their responsibility, leading to issues that will ultimately affect results.

Vermaak provides a few tips that you can put in place to help put out fires with the least disruption to your day.

  • The vast majority of emergencies are actually false alarms, so don’t allow the anxiety over an unexpected issue to derail your entire day.
  • Assess the issue and determine what input is required from you.  Delegate where necessary and stay focused on your most important priorities.
  • Remember you may need to assist in managing the emergency but not necessarily take it over – move to action, managing new expectations and prioritising will help you keep everything on track.
  • Stay focused on what needs to be achieved, share what is expected and maintain open dialogue with your relevant team members.
  • Lastly, stay positive. Others will feed off your emotions. Tackle one high priority, high impact issue at a time and focus on the solution.