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Taming the Interruption Beast

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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Interruptions. Argh. They are very stressful to those of us who are stressed anyway. Unexpected phone calls, children who need attention, the dog who needs to go out, the cat who needs to come in, the sink that is leaking, the car that must go to the shop… it never ends! It is extremely frustrating to be in the middle of, well, anything, only to have Aunt Bertha call to tell you about her bunions. What to do? Aunt Bertha’s bunions are important--to her!

Some interruptions can be eliminated, some can be controlled, and some, well...sorry, FedEx just got here and needed a signature...where was I? Oh yes-- and there are some interruptions you’ve just got to live with.

Let’s start with interruptions that can be eliminated: phone calls. Turning the phone completely off is always an option--let the voice mail get it. That’s not always practical though; we do want to talk to certain people, don’t we? Well, I have two words for you: caller ID. This is a wonderful service provided by the phone company for a small monthly fee that, when the phone rings, displays information about the caller. And, there’s no interruption for installation; the phone company can do it from their office. Bingo! Now you know who’s calling before you answer the phone and you can make an intelligent decision whether or not to answer it. If it’s Aunt Bertha, let the machine get it and call her back later when it’s convenient for you. You now have power over the phone, and it is good. The interruption has been reduced to looking to see who it is.

Other interruptions can be controlled. For example, you need a plumber to fix the sink and you have a friend that wants to see your hydrangeas. Schedule them both for the same afternoon; that is, group things into specific time slots if possible and then plan activities for that time that are not sensitive to interruptions. Another consideration: don’t schedule them for the time of day that is your best “thinking” time. For example, I am at my best in the morning so, when I have a choice, I avoid scheduling things in the morning. That way, the interruptions don’t disturb me when I’m at my best.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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