Don’t Panic

“Don’t Panic” appears on the front of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the book of the same name, a balm to soothe the hysterical intergalactic traveler.  Once, trapped in a walk-in freezer at work, I read Don’t Panic” in big red letters – right beside incomprehensible instructions on how to escape the icy prison.  I think that it is key to note at this point that the words “Don’t Panic” have no meaning when you are locked in a walk in freezer at 4:45 on a Friday afternoon.  You become very certain that you are going to die, cold and alone, surrounded by many frozen lab samples.  Finally, in Disney’s Toy Story (an excellent film), at one point, Buzz tells Woody that this is no time to panic. Woody replies that “this is the perfect time to panic.”

Today, right now seems like the perfect time to panic.  My team must process 75 computers in 4 days.  Two new databases launch on Thursday.  A new website launch depends on a successful database launch.  On Sunday, we change mail servers and domain names and must embark on a process of migrating over 100 users.  Then, teachers must be trained on new systems.  Tablets must be distributed.  Over 1000 people must be given log-ins.  I must prepare to teach a new subject.

But, strangely, there is no panic.  I have GTD – I know exactly what needs to be done and by when (learn more about my GTD systems).  There is a plan and when the unexpected happens, we alter the plan and keep going.  David Allen uses the phrase “mind like water” to describe a state in which an event affects you like a stone affects a glassy-smooth pond.  There are a few ripples and then the system returns to equilibrium. At present, my mind is like water; still, calm, and ready to absorb any change that comes my way.

Now, I just have to stay this way until Labor Day.


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