Embracing interruptions with grace …

May 22, 2023

In today's fast-paced world, interruptions come in various forms—from loved ones, furry friends, social media, and even colleagues, bosses, and other work-related sources. 

So here are some ways you can maintain focus while embracing the connections that make life fulfilling. 

Let's dive right into the delicate balance of navigating interruptions while nurturing our relationships and personal well-being. 

1. Embrace the Power of Presence
Remember that interruptions from friends, family, and pets are often driven by love and a desire for connection. 

Instead of perceiving them as only disturbances, see if you can expand your view to include an opportunity to be fully present and engage in meaningful interactions.

Take a moment to acknowledge the interruption, then dial in to see if urgency AND importance are both present.

If so, lean into the interruption and address the issue.

If not, offer a warm smile, set a boundary and a timer— “I’ve got 10 minutes before I need to get back to X, Y, or Z”—and then actively listen to what your loved ones or pets have to say. This simple act of presence can deepen your relationships while also limiting your time away from your previous activity.

2. Curate Mindful Social Media Usage
Social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to interruptions. To prevent it from becoming a constant distraction, establish dedicated windows of time for engaging with social media.

During your allocated social media breaks, it’s ok to indulge in connecting with your online community, sharing joyful moments, and supporting others. 

When you need to be otherwise focused, turn off notifications and log out of any accounts. 

This intentional approach lets you strike a balance between staying connected and maintaining your attention on your tasks.

3. Designate Interruption-Friendly Time

Office hours work as a convention because they are crystal clear in their boundaries.

So schedule specific periods throughout the day when interruptions are more welcome.

Communicate this to your loved ones and colleagues, letting them know you value their presence and will be available during these designated times—and only then—unless a true emergency occurs.

4. Establish Rituals for Work and Connection

Integrate rituals that signify transitions between work and connection time. For example, lighting a scented candle or playing a favorite song can signal the shift from focused work to cherished moments with loved ones.

When I was working with a private client cleaning out her parents’ home, we would start and end each work session by dancing to Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy.”

It served to get us amped up for some emotionally charged decisions and also let us release all that accumulated tension after sifting through 50+ years of family memories. 

Engaging in shared activities that promote connection, such as cooking together, taking short walks, or playing with your pets enhances relationships while also providing rejuvenating breaks from work.

5. Practice Self-Compassion

Lastly, remember that you are human and are surrounded by other humans so interruptions are likely to occur. Be gentle with yourself and others when that happens. 

Avoid self-judgment and practice self-compassion, knowing that unless you are completely isolated from humanity, interruptions are going to show up.

Embrace the ebb and flow of interruptions by appreciating the unique moments they bring instead of only focusing on how they are derailing your forward momentum.

So much productivity work can seem cold, aggressive, and unyielding, and only focused on efficiency.

As you navigate interruptions, look for the warmth and connection they bring along with the momentary setback so you get a glass-half-full experience instead of mounting annoyances.

You’ll feel better and so will all those pesky people clamoring for your time and attention.

Here’s to more love, more time, and less stuff!


Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!