Got an urgent, last-minute job to do? Whereas some people seem to come into their own in such situations, others – gripped by panic – huff and puff without getting a lot done… Here are 4 stages for remaining calm and productive, even when the clock’s against you.

Got a PowerPoint to prepare by tomorrow, a tender dossier that must be ready for next week, a dissatisfied client whose issue has to be resolved within the hour, or a sudden super-urgent report to submit?

1. Keep a cool head

Even when your company’s survival could depend on how quickly a task is completed, there’s always some room for manoeuvre… So be sure you don’t confuse urgency with rushing! Before diving head-first into action, take a few minutes (this will pay off later) to gather yourself, take a nice deep breath and consider exactly what’s being asked of you and how you’re going to proceed in order to pull it off.

2. Free yourself from your other commitments

Your boss and your colleagues aren’t necessarily aware of all the various demands on your time. So if you think this new task is going to disrupt your initial schedule, don’t hesitate to inform them that you can’t manage everything at once. This will help avoid them complaining to you if any other projects fall behind schedule.

3. Avoid all sources of distraction

A task that gets interrupted takes longer to complete and uses more of your energy. So set up temporary working conditions that help you to stay fully focused: close your office door or shut yourself away in a meeting room, decline unexpected visits, ask your secretary to intercept phone calls, deactivate your e-mail’s visual and audio alerts, etc.

4. Manage the time/requirements balance

According to the 80/20 rule – Pareto Principle – 20% of the work done produces 80% of the results. Meaning? In urgent situations, it’s of even greater strategic importance to control the time factor, as you need to focus on what really matters! So avoid trying to be too thorough and put your perfectionism aside.