Recently I carved out a much-needed work-from-home day. I designed a beautiful to-do list including all the reading, writing, and phone calls I needed to tackle. No sooner did I finish my morning coffee and prayer time did my smart phone crash completely. That took half the day to repair, followed by an unexpected “Emergency help with grandkids!” call from my daughter and a surprise visit from other drop-in guests. Zero of my list got accomplished.Yes, interruptions can change your plans but they can also be great opportunities. Click To Tweet
For most of us, our days seldom go exactly the way we planned. An interrupted day can cause us to lose momentum or focus, and pretty soon an off day becomes an off week, or even an off month.
So what do you do to regain energy and focus after having one of those days?
1. Don’t overact to interruptions but learn from them. Interruptions are a normal part of leadership and life. It may be a sick child, someone who just drops by your office to talk, a work crisis, or an unplanned opportunity. Yes, interruptions can change your plans but they can also be great opportunities to impact the lives of others. Learn to relax, smile, and even laugh at the interruptions knowing that you may set aside your plans for the day but you can pick them up again.
2. Remember that people are more important than plans. Most of our interruptions are caused by people. It’s good to remember that people are our primary purpose. An unexpected need of a child or spouse is more important than writing a book or sermon. A leader who needs encouragement or time to share an idea is more important than researching your strategy for the future. We can get back to our plans but the interruption from people is immediate and needs our full attention.
3. Don’t miss your own development in the interruption. Interruptions can reset our own expectations; force us to rest, hone our problem-solving skills, provide valued moments to listen and learn, and so much more. Don’t view the interruption as a setback in your leadership, but rather as an opportunity for you to become a better leader. Remember, some of your best leadership moments happen in the interruptions of life and work.
4. Be intentional about not losing momentum. You planned your day or even your entire week around certain priority goals or strategic plans, when all of a sudden interruptions smashed your to-do list. Regroup and reset your plans. Don’t abandon them. One day or even one week of interruption does not give you an excuse to abandon your goals. Being flexible and agile is critical for any leader living in today’s face-paced, ever changing world. Get the calendar out immediately and carve out time so you don’t lose momentum. If your plans were important, an interruption shouldn’t change your plans but only enrich them.We can get back to our plans, but the interruption from people requires our full attention. Click To Tweet
If you study Jesus’ earthly ministry through the filter of interruptions, you will see he had people interruptions all the time yet he embraced them as his assignment for the day. He was intentional, yet he never seemed to be in a hurry. It could even be that often our interruptions are more important than our plans.
“Then children were brought to him so he might put his hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. Then Jesus said, ‘Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like them.’ After putting his hands on them, he went on from there.” Matthew 19:13-15
How do you handle interruptions?