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February 9, 2024 6 mins

For many work tasks, the stakes are not that high

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning,
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is to keep your work in perspective. Most stuff

is not a true emergency, and staying calm will make
work more sustainable. So I know that in many workplaces
these days there is a constant sense of emergency. Every
deadline brings panic and a sprint to get things done.

I know lots of places are short staffed and everyone's
trying to do more with less, but is it truly
an emergency. I know of a wise manager who reminds
her team when they are getting stressed out. You are
not first respect. Paramedics, EMTs, firefighters and police officers are

first responders when an emergency occurs. They do, in fact
drop everything and deal with it. But if your work
is not fighting fires, providing critical medical care, or stopping crimes,
then you are probably not dealing with a true emergency.
Now I'm not saying your work isn't important. It probably is,

but it's best to behave in line with the actual stakes.
Keeping a sense of calm makes life more sustainable, helping
your workplace have fewer things that feel like emergencies can
also make life more sustainable for everyone around you, So

how do you do that? First, you don't have to
mirror everyone else's frenzy. Even if people around you are
canceling everything else and insisting they'll need to work all
weekend and such, that doesn't mean you automatically have to
do this. Do you have enough time to do your

part of your project before it's supposed to be done?
If so, awesome, someone else's panic doesn't need to be
your panic, and you don't need to augment theirs. Even
if you're not leading the team, you can work on
reducing the sense of emergency. For projects involving multiple people

and multiple steps help map out the schedule and when
each step needs to happen. It can help to make
the relationship between incremental steps and the finished product as
explicit as possible. For instance, you might say for the
report to be published by March first, the final text,
photos and graphics have to go to the graphic designer

by February fifteenth, so that the report can be sent
to the printer February twenty second, Or for the mailing
to go out in Monday's mail, I'll need the spreadsheet
by close of business Thursday. You could even go on
to say, if I get the spreadsheet on Friday, we'll
have to get the mailing out in tuesday's mail. That way,

your colleagues won't assume that if they run late, you
will be working all weekend to get back on schedule.
And to be clear, for the vast majority of things,
a mailing going out on Tuesday is really not that
different from one going out on Monday. The earth will
keep spinning, No buildings are going to burn down. Of course,

if your workplace is in a constant state of emergency,
communicating about timelines will only get you so far. You
may need to be prepared to deal with time crunches
that should have been avoidable but for whatever reason, are not. Fortunately,
there are still a few ways that you can insulate yourself.
For instance, you can build in as much buffer to

your schedule as you can, work ahead on projects where
you can, and don't overschedule yourself so there's always slack
in your schedule so you can get unexpected big tasks
done fast. If you know your colleagues and just realize
that every Monday you're going to be turning around a

big task that landed on your desk over the weekend.
You are going to be much happier than if you
get to your desk Monday morning expecting to accomplish something
in particular and end up having to delay it until
you've dealt with the latest emergency. Just plan that there
will be an emergency. Dealing with so called emergencies also

requires knowing yourself. If you are energized by a tight
deadline for an important project, or if you tend to
get everything done at the last minute, you can just
try to make the most of that adrenaline rush. But
do try not to spread this to everyone else. Most
stuff will get done. Most unexpected complications aren't truly unexpected.

The vast majority of normal working stuff is not actually
an emergency. We are better off not taking it quite
so seriously. In the meantime, this is Laura. Thanks for listening,
and here's to making the most of our times. 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,

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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