If you’re interested in focusing when all hell breaks loose, congrats. You’ve already made the first and most important step, which is to not run around with your hair on fire.
Come on, it’s tempting. We all have our inner Drama Queens, not so quietly shrieking away in our innermost beings, begging for a chance to flounce out and pitch a memorable fit.
Try to resist. Letting loose and railing at everyone and everything involved with what’s hit the fan isn’t likely to help. It will probably lead to regrets, instead, and it will almost certainly waste time you probably don’t have. So try these tips instead:
Take care of yourself – Remember to breathe, sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise. Think of the English milkmen who kept delivering milk to their routes during the Blitz, even if the houses weren’t there any more. It helps to have a routine. Not only do your health maintenance needs go up when you’re under stress, being healthy helps you handle stress, so don’t let it slide.
Do less of some things and no more of others – If you’re in a real crises mode, give yourself a little slack about things. While exercise is good, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not doing your full routine. An orderly home can give you a calm space at the center of the storm, but don’t stress out if it’s not quite as clean as you’d like. Similarly, don’t use this stress episode as an excuse to do more naughty things – like eat crappy food, drink, smoke, or snort glue like the airport manager in “Airplane.”
Keep your eyes on the prize and take the next step – This is something I’ve learned from working in theater. New play development can make building a house out lasagna seem orderly, since something is always on the verge of sliding off and collapsing, if it isn’t in free-fall. Although I’ve frequently wanted to turn into a puddle myself, I know it’s important to keep focused on the ultimate production, and do what I need to keep things moving in the right direction.
Put out fires and stop the bleeding – Usually that’s what the next step involves, but combine it with triage. When all hell has broken loose, there’s usually a lot to do and not enough of anything to do it. To stay calm, figure out where your efforts can do the most good. Put your energy into things that must be stopped, like a fire that could spread to other departments, or bleeding which could drain you and your organization of vital resources. Then, focus your eyes on that prize again – and try to keep moving forward.
by Danielle Dresden