How to Handle a High Stress Task or Request

I was asked by colleagues to synthesize what informed my practice. The net result was this algorithm.

Short Answer:

Act like a waiter – negotiating communication between kitchen and table: best advice
I got while waitering was “don’t run” – you are most likely going to cause an

Long Answer:

An initial step and of course important throughout the process of responding to a
request; pauses are your friends and you would be surprised at how short they are
but highly effective in collecting your thoughts.
Parse / Refine
List any clarification questions you might have; who, what, where and when are the
key questions (why is left to the mysteries of the universe); this is an important
step since it helps with triage and determining the next step.
Reach Out / Research
Resist the temptation to simply flip an email; be sure that your communications add
value; you may need to try multiple variations of key terms to successfully complete
a search.
Inform / Package
Sometimes it is important to let the requester know what stage you are at; review
the draft response for completeness and accuracy and readability (get an extra pair
of eyes if the matter is highly sensitive); a good trick is to slow down before
hitting send and remove your hands from the keyboard and parse your response.
Follow through
Don’t forget to thank folks – you are cultivating relations for the next mad dash.

And so for day 2620

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