Handling Interruptions and Making Space for Work
It feels like I never have enough time in the day for my MITs (Most Important Tasks) to get done. I"m trying time blocking, streaks, saying no to outside disruptions. I’m still exploring ways to deal with interruptions and getting back on track with Work Interrupted.
Dealing with Interruptions
I’ve read articles where I can put on headphones to signal to others that I’m not available just doesn’t seem to work when my wife comes into the room and absolutely needs this or that done. The same thing happens with customers. I can’t say no at this stage of my career. One day, I’ll finally become more cemented in my career and finances and I’ll be ready to say no whenever I want to. Some folks will say “it’s time to just put your foot down and say no.” Well, I can’t say no to my supervisor most of the time. I could get away with sometimes saying no but not all the time.
Time Blocking has been a mess for me
Time blocking hasn’t worked quite right. I’m resigned to the idea of just making sure I get one MIT done in the morning and one MIT done in the afternoon. I’m starting to work on my morning frog earlier in the morning and work on the afternoon frog in the middle of the afternoon instead of the end of the day. It’s hard to work on an afternoon frog immediately after lunch. I’m drowsy after lunch and just need to unwind. Perhaps I’ll look into my diet plans and what I eat at noon to help with this. Or I should just take a mid-day nap for 30 minutes and get back into the flow.
Time Shifting My Time Block
My scheduled time blocks are becoming more flexible. I’ll consider this “time shifting.” Oftentimes, I will pause my work when an interruption occurs. Afterwards, I’ll often decide to just call it a day on my original work when I am no longer in the flow or in the mood. It’s been hard for me to restart my work when I might have other more interesting tasks to work on.
I’m slowly accepting the idea that my work doesn’t have to occur exactly its designated time. I can just move it forward just a little. I don’t want to push it too late in the day and I won’t have time to work on my original project.
If I don’t get back to it, I’ll have to mark it is an MIT for tomorrow morning. I used to get uptight about not finishing something today. But I’ve learned “that’s life.” I’ll let it go and return back tomorrow.
Leaving Bread Crumbs To Return Back To Work
One idea I’ve been using to great effect is the idea of marking my place in my work before dealing with the interruption. I take a sticky note and write down where I’m at with my work. and what is the next action I need to take when I return back to my work. I place that sticky note on my computer monitor and switch focus from my computer work to my customer. When I return, it will take me a couple of minutes to return to where I left off. I can resume my train of thought and continue onward with my original work.
Getting My Motor Started
Together with leaving a bread crumb trail, My frustration comes from just getting started. Getting into the starting blocks is difficult because I feel like I’m starting over again. I’ve been using the Due app to nag me every 30 minutes to return to my original work. If I get interrupted, I’ll pull out my iPhone and talk to Siri:
I love using the Due app because it will nag me every 30 minutes until I dismiss it.
Alternatively, I can use the Apple Reminders app:
I can snooze the reminder for another hour or mark the reminder as completed.
I’ve also taken to using my Apple Watch and set a 15 minute timer as a trigger to return back to my original work.
I switch between using the Due app (with its persistent repeating reminders) or just set a timer on my Apple Watch or iPhone to remind me to get back to work. I just need a trigger (any kind of trigger) to nudge me back to my original work plans. Otherwise, I’m more prone to visiting Twitter or my Netflix queue.
Yes, the Due app can be annoying but it’s saved my butt numerous times. I think that a 30 minute snooze is enough time for a nagging notification to appear without overly irritating me. I might think about doing 15 or 20 minutes next to see how much nagging I can handle. Everyone’s tolerance is different so 30 minutes sounds like a good compromise.
Falling off the bandwagon on a daily basis is a part of life. Getting back on the bandwagon more quickly is the part I’m trying to master. Interruptions often derails my original plans and I’m always looking for ways to get back on the saddle again. Have you encountered your own difficulties in getting back to work after dealing with an interruption? Have you just had trouble getting started on that project that’s pestering you and you’re just procrastinating? Hit me up with a reply and tell me how you’ve dealt with distractions.