Daily Tip Off: The 48-Hour Emergency Rule

I developed this rule when working in a fast-paced, aggressive work / life environment, when I first realized that most of us react in stressful situations, very few of us respond, and very, very few of us actually initiate the right action.

Anyway, I named the little rule I invented, The 48-Hour Emergency Rule, and it goes as follows. Whenever you experience a stressful, anxiety-ridden situation or “emergency” in which you feel an urgent impulse or need to take immediate action, ask yourself the question: If I do nothing for 24 hours, will someone’s life be at risk? If the answer is NO (which it will be 99% of the time), do nothing outwardly for 24 hours. This means not even talking to others about it, sending emails, making slanted references – nothing. The do-nothing period, however, is not an inactive, un-intentional period, but quite to the contrary: you do nothing outwardly, but you heighten your awareness, and observe all your reactions, thoughts and feelings, you acknowledge and accept them, and you let them pass through you. (You may choose to write them out in a private place.) Then when 24 hours are up, ask yourself the same question again. If the answer continues to be NO, follow the same procedure.

I found that typically, within 48 hours one of 4 things happens with amazing certainty:

(a) The right course of action reveals itself clearly and unequivocally, or

(b) New information or circumstances emerge, making further reflection necessary (and rendering useless any action we might have initially taken), or

(c) Someone or something else takes care of the problem and it goes away, or

(d) The urgency of the problem disappears in our minds and we feel no need to do anything at all!

This is an exceedingly simple and equally difficult rule to apply and I struggle with it daily, but it never fails me when I do it successfully. Good luck!

Last 5 posts by Shahana Dattagupta


  1. Khushi

    This can be your first book! Seriously. Check out Suzy Welch’s 10 10 10 rule.

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