How to Handle Interruptions

How to Handle Interruptions

How would you describe the normal flow of your day? seamless, free-flowing bumpy, frustratingly slow Often it just depends, right?  Sometimes the tasks we assign ourselves are accomplished in no time and often we get nothing done or very little. Why is that? Interruptions.  They come in all forms and all phases of our lives.

  • Message interruptions: from someone at the door of your home or office; phone calls—from people you were not expecting; emails, voice mails and text messages that force you to leave your current task;

  • People interruptions: a friend, colleague, salesperson, or delivery person at the door of your home or office starts to chat;

  • Mechanical interruptions: internet access is down; the printer isn’t working properly; your hard-drive crashes; batteries to operate any number of things in your day have lost their charge or burned out and you have no replacement or battery charger; your car breaks down, your bike gets a flat;
  • Life interruptions: the stuff of nightmares—auto accidents, ER visits, death;  people in your life suddenly ill, depressed, lost—needing you;

Adopt some of the following methods so you can handle the normal and in-the-long-run, insignificant interruptions of your day:

  •  Take a deep breath and try to relax:  stretch as you contemplate how to fix the printer, when to call IT for help, or how to shorten the call from Sharon who will talk forever about her relatives;
  • Think—there’s opportunity in meeting someone new: the person on the phone or at the door could become someone who will expand your life or you can help brighten their day; be open to that;
  • Allow yourself to learn something: the voice on the phone, the email asking for help, the colleague at your office door could possibly teach you something; none of us has all the answers—if you did your life would always be free-flowing;
  • Relish surprise and free time; the interruption could bring a nice surprise into your life or just break up a boring task you can’t seem to complete; let the interruption clear your mind and later you’ll be ready for that boring task;
  • Learn to postpone: this is a hard lesson, but we all need to master it; moms, caregivers should have activities at the ready while taking necessary phone calls; office workers need pen and pad handy to jot down where the letter, or thought process or row of figures was paused; be prepared so it will be easier to get back to the task after you had to postpone it;
  • Use time wisely despite long-term interruptions: best example of this is businesses that have to rely on good weather conditions; in some climates a business would fail if not allowing for inclement weather so a lawncare service uses rain days to draw up estimates for hardscape, painters paint inside and out, and athletes use indoor facilities when they cannot be outside;

All of this requires a mindset—the ability to adjust, to be flexible, to use time wisely when it is uninterrupted and it is yours alone.  Mastering these more minor interruptions can prepare you to handle the truly big interruptions in life.

  • Life interruptions in other people’s lives ie illness, accident or death: offer assistance when you can by driving those in need to the hospital or doctor appointments; attend a wake or funeral; take care of children, make a meal, care for a yard or visit the sick at home or in the hospital;

  • Life interruptions in your life ie divorce, illness, accident or death: these require personal courage, inner strength and belief in oneself; you may have to fight illness, deal with a great deal of physical therapy and down time, learn to live with the interruption of cancer, chronic illness, broken bones, or debilitating surgery; you may need a new home or job situation; if your life is interrupted by death or divorce—your spouse or child or someone very close to you dies or your marriage fails—you’ll feel the bumps, guaranteed; but if you have been gracious to others during their life interruptions—hopefully, this time they will be there for you.

Thanks to Google Images

9 thoughts on “How to Handle Interruptions

  1. Beth: As the queen of multi-tasking, I enjoyed your post and can relate to everything you mentioned; both professionally and personally. Thanks for the insights!

  2. Hi Marla, I am so glad you are a queen. My daughter wants me to put all my notes and to-dos on my MAC, but I still use paper a lot. It’s hard to break habits–in a way that would be another form of interruption!

    Have a good day multitasking, Beth

  3. That was timely! My husband interrupts a lot (and so does his family) – trying to remind him not to do this. He grew up in a family of 12 kids so one can easily imagine how the habit of interrupting started! You probably had to butt in to be heard.

    You’ve given me a different way to look at the interruptions. Now instead of being annoyed 🙂 I can control how I choose to think of it. Maybe there’ll be some surprise or fun or something I can learn in it!

  4. So glad that the information helped you, Lisa. With all the minor stuff we have in our daily lives, it’s great to find ways to stay calm and not let things get under our skin. Beth

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  6. As a very busy divorce lawyer I get many interruptions during the work day- family, clients, business associates, the phone, the cell phone, etc….
    Thank you so much for some new tools to help me cope!
    Michael C. Craven
    Chicago Divorce lawyer

  7. Hi Michael–Thanks so much for your comment. I will get right on my next post tomorrow. When I get such a positive response from a reader, it helps me research and do it again. I hope I am addressing you correctly–maybe the email was written on Lynn Reiner’s address. Good luck–I am sure you are helping a lot of people–and with your new tools, yourself. Beth

  8. Dear Patricia,

    Thanks so much for your comment. As a cognitive hypnotherapist, you might approach some of these issues from a more evidenced based viewpoint, so I am honored that my down-home advice is worthy.
    Thanks for reading.

    Beth Havey

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