When we allow ourselves to get interrupted, what we’re saying is that the interruption is more important than what we’re currently doing. That’s why it feels icky when a friend, colleague, boss or store assistant we’re talking with stops to answer their phone…
Interruptions cost us a great deal. Not just our valuable time, but a train of thought, a great idea, completing an important task and our own priorities. When unchecked, interruptions also add to our own stress and overwhelm.
Learning to deal well with interruptions makes us more effective, more focused, we get more done – and feel better about ourselves too!
But it’s not just others who interrupt us. Over the last 15 years or so and with the advent of social media, phone messaging, Youtube and email (to name but a few) we not only have to deal with others interrupting us, but also have a whole raft of new ways to interrupt ourselves!
FIRST: Build Awareness
The first step in learning to deal with interruptions, is simply AWARENESS. We must begin to consciously notice we have been interrupted* or that we have interrupted ourselves…
* It may seem a little strange to say “notice we have been interrupted”, but so many of us take interruptions in our stride – automatically stopping whatever we’re doing and giving our attention to the interruptor, that yes, we need to consciously notice that we have indeed been interrupted.
THEN: Use the acronym – FECK!
Then, once we have noticed, it really helps to have a “system” or acronym to follow – to help us decide what we do next.
So, inspired by “Father Ted” (an irreverent TV comedy show about a catholic priest banished to a small island in Ireland), I came up with a fun and easy to remember acronym for dealing with interruptions – FECK!
Yes it DOES sound similar to a rather “rude” word. But the plan is that the “shock” factor makes it more memorable – and fun too!
FECK – Your 4 Letter Acronym to Deal With Interruptions:
(And feel free to shout it when interrupted!)
- F – FREEZE: Stop. Don’t move!
- E – EVALUATE: Ask questions.
- C – CHOOSE: Using the answers to your questions, evaluate and make a choice.
- K – KEEP STRONG: Stick to your choice.
Tips if someone else is interrupting you:
- Questions to ask include: Can this wait? Why now? Who does this interruption benefit? How does this interruption benefit me? Who else could deal better with it? What does my gut feeling say about this?
- Use the answers to your questions to KEEP STRONG and strengthen your resolve. Your time is as valuable as anyone else’s (and more valuable to you!).
- If you do decide to follow the interruption, set your boundaries – take a moment to get clear on exactly why you are needed and for how long. Just because it’s someone else’s urgent or important doesn’t mean YOU have to drop everything!
Tips for when you interrupt yourself:
- Questions to ask include: How does this benefit me? Is this what I really want to be doing? If I continue to allow this interruption – how will I feel at the end of the day? What does my gut feeling say about this?
- Use the answers to your own questions to KEEP STRONG and stick to your choice!
- If you do decide to follow the interruption, set a timer to stay focused and minimise the impact on whatever you were doing before you were interrupted.
We teach others how to treat us – and how we manage interruptions says a lot about how we value ourselves and our time. Show yourself and others that you are important!
“How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.” David Norris
If you liked this article about dealing with interruptions, you may also like:
- Super-easy Procrastination Tip – When Would NOW Be a Good Time?
- 10 Time Management Tips: Add an Hour to Your Day!
- 25 x Fabulous Inspirational Quotes to Get You Fired up and Back on Track!
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