Sometimes interruptions keep me from doing important work. It’s frustrating to me when I know what I am doing is important, I want to do it, I enjoy doing it, I can see the reward for getting the work done, but for some reason I keep getting interrupted. When I really need to get something done is when I am most likely to get interrupted. I get a phone call, someone stops by to see me, I become aware of some important news, and emergency happens that I must attend to.
I’ve come to think of these interruptions as tests. These tests are to see if I am truly committed to completing the task at hand. These tests are the greatest opportunity for me to give up what I was doing before I was interrupted.
After the interruption, when I am able to resume what I was working on, is a critical decision point. This is when it is critical to push to resume the activity. It is easy to make excuses and create false reward to jump to something less/un-productive.
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it”
- Chinese Proverb
Spending time (or wasting time) doing what I should not be doing has a way of being easy to do. For some reason I am less likely to be interrupted. I don’t get interruptions when I waste time. It’s as if nothing stands in my way of wasting time.
I’ve come to think of the lack of interruption as a test. The test is to see if I am able to choose the right thing and redirect my attention to being productive. Throughout the day I will check myself in the following ways.
- Pay attention to what I am doing. When I am interrupted, what am I working on before being interrupted is probably pretty important.
- If I know what I am working on is important, I get back to the important things as quickly as possible. The quicker I get back, the easier it is to stay productive.
- If what I am doing is un-interrupted for extended periods of time, I watch out. I may need to make a conscious effort to find something more important to do.
“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.”
- W. Edwards Deming
Am I the only person who has this experience?
Are you ever interrupted when you are working on something really important?