Working From Home, Tip #6: Interruptions

Mi familia. (minus one who was out of town)

Do you set any kind of Interruption Rules? To be honest, I struggle with this one. With all of us working from home and distance learning, trying to juggle life in a completely new way… what are the rules when someone can interrupt you?

When can your spouse interrupt you? When can your kids interrupt you? I mean, if you’re in your office or working at the kitchen table, are the kids allowed to just come in screaming?

I know… a lot of things depend on the situation and the age of your kids. I get it. Right now, our oldest has graduated and is working (but living at home), our almost-17-year-old is pretty successful at school and is a super self-starter, and our 11-year-old is… well… a high-energy 11-year-old.

And if this were happening when our kids were 10, 7, and newborn… things would be radically different. Yikes. I can’t even imagine…

The bottom line is you have to teach people, kids and adults alike, when it’s acceptable to interrupt you. And maybe, yes.. you can interrupt me at anytime… just don’t come in here screaming. Or, since my kids are a little older now, they know if there’s no blood and no vomit, it can probably wait until the top of the hour when I take my break, right? No blood? No vomit? It can wait another 20 -30 minutes.

Just remember, whatever we’re doing, we’re always teaching people how to treat us. If you share your opinion about something and your friend or spouse yells about how wrong you are, then you change your opinion, you’ve just taught them how to treat you. “Yell at me and I’ll change’.

It works the same way in the office and at home. How you respond to interruptions teaches everyone around you how to interrupt you. Remember, however, to be kind. Be gentle. Because no one is trying to be mean to you or sabotage your work. Remember when someone ‘interrupts’ you, their just in their own heads and concerned with their own stuff more than yours (which is their right). So give them a little grace and just explain, “Hey, it’s really hard for me to keep my focus while I’m working when I get interrupted. Can you give me until I take a break in a few minutes? That way I can give you my full attention.” (Who doesn’t love someone’s full attention??)

And sure, you may have to do it over and over and over and over… and over. But it’s worth the harmony and peace that results. Clear communication is always best.

Besides… If you’re working from home with someone else who’s working from home.. and you know their interruption rules, follow them out of respect. They’ll be much more likely to follow yours in return.

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