How To Eliminate Self-Generated Crises

Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by Dani_vr

How many “emergencies” do you have on a daily or weekly basis that are actually self-generated crises?

I’m talking about panic because you can’t find something you need right then. Here are tips on the causes of these crises, and how you can stop them in their tracks.

This article was inspired by the Dilbert cartoon from Sunday September 16:
Dilbert Comic for 9/16/2012

Losing Things

In the cartoon, the woman was searching for her phone. My mother used to say, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This is the true key to being able to find things quickly. If you discipline yourself to put something in a single place every time, you will never have to look elsewhere.

The problem comes when we shift surroundings. Your keys may go on a hook at home, but where are they at work? Your phone may go in a basket at home, but where is it on your desk?

Solution: Have designated places at home and work for all of your things.

At work, I have a metal stand (meant for business cards) that I use for my phone. When I get to work, I silence the phone and put it on the stand. I can see it throughout the day and I never have to look for it.

Leaving Things Behind

In the cartoon, the woman left her security badge at home and had to drive back to get it. Have you ever had to go back home to retrieve something you left behind?

The problem comes because we think we are going to remember things in the morning. Even morning people can forget things in the rush to get everyone out the door.

Solution: Prepare the night before.

If you get your briefcase, purse, lunch or whatever together the night before and put it by the door you will be exiting you will be less likely to forget something.

If it is something you might forget because it is not large, try attaching it to something you cannot leave without. For example, if you are forgetting your security fob, put it on your key ring. If you start the car, you know you can get into work.

Not Being Prepared

In the cartoon, the woman couldn’t find a critical piece of information for a meeting. While this could be construed as “losing things”, it is more specific because that one folder was needed for a specific purpose. In this case, I believe it is more of a case of not being prepared for the meeting.

Solution: Take 10 minutes to prepare for a meeting by pulling all the information you need together. Also include a way to take notes during the meeting.

Since the meeting was scheduled at a specific time, the appropriate thing would have been to take 10 minutes and pull together all the information needed for the meeting. If you are scheduled into back-to-back meetings, this will save you hurry and bother as you move seamlessly through your schedule.

Think back to high school. If you had first period history on one end of the school, and second period math on the other end of the school, you would take all your books and papers to both classes. That way you wouldn’t have to run back to your locker and possibly be late for a class. Same thing applies here.


There is no crisis that an apt adrenaline junkie can’t make more dire. In the cartoon, it is apparent that the woman is having crisis after crisis, and they are all of her own making.

Over-reacting to anything can make it seem tragic and overwhelming.

Solution: Ask yourself if it is really important.

Remember that while it may seem like a feature film to you, most people will see it as your personal home movies. Crisis are often amplified by those who live in them. If you live in a constant state of crisis, ask yourself how you can back off. If you are being affected by someone who is always in crisis, try not to get swept up in it (much as Dilbert and Alice do).

How much did you recognize yourself in the cartoon? Can you find a way to make fewer crises in your life? Share below.

Photo by Dani_vr