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July 4, 2024 4 mins

Recurring emergencies suggest a systems problem -- that you might be able to solve

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning,
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is that when a need comes up urgently once,
it is an emergency. When it comes up twenty times,

it is a systems problem, and that is something you
can address so you can hopefully avoid the apparent emergency
in the future. Today's tip, like some other recent ones,
comes from my other podcast, Best of Both Worlds, where
my co host Sarah Hart Hunger recently interviewed Laura May Martin.

Martin is Google's in house productivity expert and the author
of the new book up Time, A Practical Guide to
Personal Productivity and well Being. Martin noted that some job
abs are by their nature about responding to urgent things.
An er doctor, for instance, doesn't really know what injury

or illness she is going to see next. A journalist
who handles breaking news may also not know what the
next big story is going to be. But even in
these jobs, I would point out there are often some
predictable aspects. An er doctor is probably going to see
a lot of potential heart attacks. If it is January,

there are probably going to be a lot of flu cases.
She can definitely anticipate those things. Journalists know big events
that are coming up that might have news associated with them.
Most obituaries for older famous people have been largely written
long before these people die. All that is left is

filling in the date. As for the rest of us,
emergencies truly should be rare. If something urgent is coming
up often, Martin advises, look at the process. An emergency
is a one off thing. If the same thing happens

twenty times, there is likely a problem with the system
that you need to address. I think this seems relevant
for our personal and professional lives. If every Friday night
you have to do an emergency load of laundry so
your kids have soccer socks on Saturday, that is a
system's problem. Either they don't have enough soccer socks or

your family needs to adjust the laundry schedule. If every month,
the night before the monthly report goes to your boss,
you wind up working till midnight, that is a system's problem.
Maybe you need to get the constituent parts from your
team earlier, or maybe the report needs to be due
the tenth of the month instead of the fifth to
leave more time for processing. The results. If you are

late to a team meeting every Wednesday morning because the
client meeting immediately before it always runs over, that is
a system's problem. You could consider starting the client meeting
a little earlier, or booking it for fifty five minutes
instead of forty five since it always lasts fifty five
minutes anyway, or maybe the team meeting moves later. But

this is all unlikely to just magically change on its own.
If you have an urgent problem that keeps coming up,
investigate whether there is a way you could adjust your
systems to be able to handle it routinely and without
drama in the future. Sometimes emergencies just happen to everyone,

but if you avoid the avoidable emergencies, you can reduce
your stress and run your life more smoothly. In the meantime,
this is Laura. Thanks for listening, and here's to making
the most of our time. Thanks for listening to Before Breakfast.

If you've got questions, ideas, or feedback, you can reach
me at Laura at Laura vandercam dot com. Before Breakfast
is a production of iHeartMedia. For more podcasts from iHeartMedia,
please visit the iHeartRadio app. Apple podcasts, or wherever you

listen to your favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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