Imposing order on chaos

So what do you do when everything is a priority, and everything is an emergency?  In some cases, it’s all you can do to keep your head above water and throw water on everything and rush to the next thing.

Problem is, are you tracking what you’re doing?  Are you taking the time to learn from what you’ve just fixed, or are you having to tear across the office to put out another fire, or hopefully, keep one from happening?  I’ve been in many different situations, unfortunately, mostly at the extremes of chaos and order and not the healthy middle of the road.

I’ve found that keeping a running tally of incidents helps.  Some of the things I track regularly help after the dust settles to affect the long term change.

  • Column 1 – what happened?
  • Column 2 – where did it come from and what does it affect?
  • Column 3 – what did we do to fix it or create workaround?
  • Column 4 – what is the long term change/update/rework?

Columns 1-3 really help the next time it comes up, but in my experience, column 4 is the one that is most important, and unfortunately, the one most ignored.

So how do you slow things down to a more manageable speed?