Work from Home – Sometimes Life Interrupts Work – Get over it

It’s important to stay on task and be as productive as possible especially when you work from home, but here’s a bit of advice that goes against common wisdom – when life interrupts your work, let it. Go with the flow and don’t try to fight it. When your kids need you or there’s a sudden household emergency, you’re much better off setting your work aside and coming back to it later.

You’re probably thinking – ‘But what about getting stuff done?’ It’s true that if you let little things distract you from your work, your personal productivity will suffer. But here’s how you strike the right balance between getting things done and getting interrupted.

Your Detailed Schedule

At the start each day write a detailed schedule. Decide exactly how much time you will spend on each task and when you’re going to do it. Try to keep to your schedule but be flexible. Be willing to ditch the schedule when you need to.

Surprisingly, this is actually much harder than creating the schedule and committing to it. While you’re driven to get work done and push yourself to be productive, you also need patience and the willingness to stop when you need to. When you get back to the task later, you’ll have more focus for it than if you’d tried to work through the interruption.

Prioritise in Preparation for Snags

What may happen is that there will be a task or two that you don’t get to. This is why it’s important to prioritise. The best way to do this is to create categories. These categories should be for things that must be done, things that ought to be done, and things that can be left for another day. Another way to prioritise is to start with the tasks that require the most concentration and brainpower. The tasks that don’t require as much can be saved for later in the day when you might be trying to get your focus back after an interruption.

When you do have to skip tasks because of your interruptions, decide when you’re going to finish them. Put them onto another day’s schedule and be realistic about when they’ll get done.

Keep an Interruptions Log

It’s good to keep track of your interruptions. Keeping an interruption log reveals to you exactly how much time is getting wasted. You might feel like your kids are stopping you from working all day long, but if you actually log your interruptions, you’ll see that they’re only taking minutes of your working time.

Write down each interruption and how long it took you to resolve it. There’s no reason to be detailed about it; after all, you don’t want to take up more of your precious work time! Just jot down a quick note and review at the end of the day.

Schedule Your Interruptions

A great way to deal with interruptions is to add an hour of ‘distraction time’ to your day. If you plan to work eight hours today, make it nine. This gives you an hour of leeway for getting stuck in traffic or cleaning up emergency spills. When you have plenty of time set aside in your schedule, your interruptions become nothing more than breaks in your working day.

The important thing is to be flexible. Proper planning is essential, but don’t be overly rigid about it. When you’re inflexible, your distractions only cause you stress. They’re going to happen anyway, so you’re better off not trying to fight them.

Till next Time

The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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4 thoughts on “Work from Home – Sometimes Life Interrupts Work – Get over it

  1. I love the idea of keeping an interruptions log. It’s brilliant. And as someone who lives with constant interruptions in my life and trying to get a million and one things done, I am surprised I never thought about doing this before. I’m sure that it would help me cope with stress a lot better than I do now!

  2. I have never ever thought to keep a time interruption log. I think I might have to incorporate it on the days that I am working to keep an eye on if I find myself heading over to Facebook just to check “one thing” or getting a phone call and having a 15 minute chat.

    Great post!

  3. Great post! And very timely! This is definitely advice I NEED! Certainly might keep my frustration level down a little! Thanks!

  4. Time management is something people struggle with. I found in my own life and with my coaching clients that as you rise in vibration and go up the Emotional Guidance Scale, much of this goes away.

    Your tips are very helpful.



    Visiting from UBC