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Coping with the Daily Stream of Interruptions

By Janice D. Byer
Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2004

This past few weeks has brought into a brighter light one of the obstacles that we, as home business owners, have to endure all the time… unexpected interruptions. Sure, interruptions don’t just happen to home business owners but we seem to have the most unique ones.

For instance, this past few weeks I have had to deal with what seems to be an increase of telemarketing calls; insurance companies, doctors, repair shops, and lawyers following my husband’s car accident; a husband who now has too much time on his hands waiting for his truck to be repaired; and a child who wants her mommy to cuddle with her while she is a home sick.

Some of these interruptions are necessary and have to be dealt with but others can become an annoyance. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of putting together an important proposal or on a roll designing a website when the phone rings and you hear someone on the other end asking if you want new windows installed.

Each of us has to cope with the daily stream of interruptions… its just part of running a home business. But, how we deal with them will determine how they affect our daily tasks and productivity.

Interruptions, such as the dreaded telemarketing calls, can be brought down in size. Sure, you could let your answering machine take all the calls but then you would be taking away from the personal touch that your business normally projects to your clients. Not to mention you might lose potential clients when they don’t want to talk to an answering machine or leave a message.

The next plausible answer would be to subscribe to a Call Display service from your local phone company. Now, sometimes a phone number that is displayed may look familiar but when you pick up the phone you soon realize that it’s not who you thought it was. But, more often than not, having Call Display saves you the trouble of even picking up the phone when you see a number of someone you just don’t have time to talk to. You just look at the display and then make the decision if you want to pick up or not. That takes no time at all.

Other personal interruptions, such as your kids running into your office and asking you to bring up a web site they just saw listed on the Family Channel, or your spouse wanting to share some local gossip, don’t have to break your concentration. These interruptions can be controlled. Be sure that when you are in the middle of anything of importance, that your family understands that you will be with them shortly and that usually what they need is not earth-shattering and can wait a few minutes.

Another interruption that can be controlled (or at least minimized) is the time you spend going through all the unwanted email that shows up. It’s actually a never ending step that has to be done but it is worse when you don’t do it. Most email programs and services give you the option of putting certain email addresses on a blocked list or have any mail that comes in from a certain address moved automatically to the Trash folder. By going directly there, you don’t spend the time looking to see if the email is anything of interest.

At times there may be interruptions from your daily routine that can’t be avoided, such as meetings or a trip to the business supply store. For these types of interruptions, try to schedule them for the same day… kill two (or more) birds with one stone. If you need to visit a client’s office, be sure to have a list ready of supplies you need to pick up at the office supply store or other errands you may need to run that are in the same area.

This is just a few ways to help minimize those things that come up during our busy days that we don’t have planned. Interruptions will continue to happen, usually on a daily basis. We just have to learn how to deal with them and still maintain our professionalism and productivity.

About the Author
Janice Byer is a certified Master Virtual Assistant and owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services (, an award winning company that has survived and overcome the daily stream of interruptions that happen on a daily basis.


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