Reader Question 5: How Do You Function in a Crisis?

“How about a post on functioning when (stuff) hits the fan, an unexpected crisis that fills your mind and makes it hard to shift gears? Do you drop balls and give yourself grace, or delegate, or still try to function or something else??”

Oh, you give yourself grace. Always.

You are allowed to be human, you are allowed to have crises, and you are allowed to drop balls and function poorly, or not at all.

In fact, that combination is unavoidable. We are human all the time, and we go through times of crisis on a regular basis.

One of the things crises do is to blow up your normal routines. In the acute phase of a crisis, everything else must be shoved aside to deal with it. Crises disorganize us in part because we don’t have time for regular routines.

We are also disorganized in a time of crisis because often we are dealing with a flood of new information, new decisions, new uncertainties, new tasks.

Crises disorganize us mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

So what does that mean when it comes to organizational questions like delegating, functioning, meeting priorities or dropping them?

We all have different ways of dealing with things, so I will simply speak from my own experience here. I hope some of it will be useful in sparking your own thinking about dealing with crises.

When I’m going through a time of crisis, it helps me to remind myself of these things:

1) I remind myself that I AM allowed to be human, and to have a crisis, and to function poorly or not at all sometimes. This is reality. It happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s my turn to have everything fall apart, you know? (Yes, it stinks; and no, we can’t change that, it’s in the Being Human contract.)

2) I remind myself that crises have life cycles. It won’t be this way forever.

3) I remind myself that I have the skills to re-organize myself when I have more energy and time again.

4) And I remind myself of this: Organization is orientation.

That last? The knowledge that organization is orientation? That helps me in crises, too. If something orients me, it is organizing me.

So it’s not about doing everything you did before the crisis hit. It’s about finding your compass and figuring out your new bearings.

Again, I will draw from my own experience in hopes that it might be helpful for others.

I ask myself these questions in a crisis:

“What do I need, right now?”

I learned to ask myself this one when my child had to be hospitalized several times. Usually, I needed a bodily thing that I had forgotten to attend to, in the whirl of events. Question: “What do I need, right now?” The usual answers: “You need a nap, you need to pee, you need to vent or cry with someone, you need something to eat.” We often neglect our basic bodily and social needs in times of crisis. I discovered that I was not better dealing with chaos when I was also hangry.

So you can ask yourself what you need, right now.

“What needs to happen, right now?”

In a crisis our minds are filled with uncertainties and questions and all kinds of new needs. How will we do this, how will I take care of that, what if… and then….? Often the panicky answer is, “A THOUSAND THINGS, a thousand things need to happen right now.” No, they don’t; because they can’t.

But for sure, something out of those thousand things needs to happen next. You need to call back the insurance company; or you need to ask someone else to do it. You need to figure out a place to stay that night. You need to text somebody.

That question, “What needs to happen, right now?” is the one I ask myself to cut through the static.

When I ask myself those questions, I know my priorities at that moment in the crisis. I know what I can drop and what I can delegate.

I am oriented, and therefore I am a tiny bit organized.

After the storm passes, I know how to RE-ORIENT myself to my old routine, or to a new normal.

But, bottom line: in a crisis, first, last, and always, you give yourself grace.

You are allowed to be human, you are allowed to have crises, and you are allowed to drop balls and function poorly, or not at all.

People do it all the time, and the world is still turning.

And it does not mean things will be this way, forever.

Copy and share – the link is here. Never miss a post from the Analog Office! Subscribe here to get blog posts via email.

Wondering how to manage your paper-based or hybrid paper-digital systems? Ask me a question.

Written on
© 2024 Anna Havron. All rights reserved. Website hosted by