“What to do about all those interruptions!”
I read an article in our local newspaper this week about how nurses in hospitals were dramatically cutting down on mistakes made in delivery of patient’s meds. One of the tools was a vest worn over their scrubs. On the back of the brightly colored vest were the words Do Not Interrupt in huge black letters. They discovered many mistakes were made simply because of all the interruptions that nurses got. By introducing tools to cut down on interruptions they were making their patients safe.
First of all, can I just say that if I could get one of those vests (they look like the ones worn by weekend roadside workers, picking up trash in exchange for working off charges on their police records), I would. What a great addition to any wardrobe!
Handling interruptions with your kids
I got to thinking about the way I handled this problem while raising three kids at the same time as growing my business and writing books. I had a studio behind my home while the kids were in school, which helped a lot. But still, they’d come running to me with things like, “Erin won’t give me back my Bon Jovi t-shirt!” Or, “Tell Trevor to stop playing his music so loud.” Or, “Caity is so annoying. Make her stop!” If you have kids, you’ve probably heard similar things.
When I was busy writing my newsletters or fashion articles and later, books, I put into place a policy that you might want to borrow. It was this: no one comes out to talk to me in the next hour except for two reasons: there’s a policeman at the front door or there’s blood . . . lots of blood.
Handling interruptions with your spouse
“Honey, did you see this article about such and such?” Our partners, bless their hearts, just want to share their enthusiasm, interests, or love with us and we’re thinking, “Please don’t interrupt me right now! I have a thought and I’m going to lose it!” I’ve heard some colleagues share their solutions to not being interrupted when they’re at home in their home office that include putting a sign on the door, having office hours that are not to be interrupted or just plain clear communication: “I have a project to finish and I will be ready to take a break in forty-five minutes. Will you hold all conversations until then?” One partner started making a list of things she wanted to share once the other one was free to put her attention elsewhere.
Handling interruptions your clients make during your appointments
In every class I teach and often, with professionals that I’m consulting with, I hear about the client that is constantly interrupting the appointment by taking phone calls or having numerous interruptive conversations in the home with their children while you’re trying to help her achieve her goals in her closet. It really makes it hard and dilutes your own value when that happens. I truly believe that we train our clients to be great clients right from the start and setting the expectation that this is scared time, not to be interrupted, is something we can do in conversation with our clients. If I have a client who has young children, I ask her when we can meet when she will be free to concentrate just on herself. The same is true for busy professionals. I will say, “With so many responsibilities, when will you be able to carve out four uninterrupted hours for us to work together?”
You could put it in writing
Recently, when I hired a productivity coach, she actually had a piece of paper that had her policy on it which expressly asked that I as her client, would not have interruptions by phone or by people during our time together. She explained how when you work on organizing principles and productivity, interruptions can really be detrimental. How brilliant, I thought at the time. What a great way to carve a path to a great, productive session by putting that out right from the start.
So, if you find those vests with those words on the back of them, let me know. I think I could sell a bunch of them! If you have other ways you deal with interruptions, I’d love to hear of them.