Remote Work and Family: Dealing With Interruptions

When you work from home, people are tempted to interrupt you. When people see you, it is easy to start a conversation.

Even if the interruption is only for a minute, it can be jarring to mentally switch from work to whatever the other person wants to talk about. And it can take a long time to get back into a work mindset after.

Whether it’s a loved one, a roommate, or a neighbor, these interruptions can hurt your productivity and add stress to your relationship with the other person.

How To Fix This

The best solution is to make it clear when you are trying to focus. Some things you can do to signal that you are trying to focus:

For any of these to work, you will need to let the person know why interruptions are a problem, and how to know when you are focusing on work. Adults who respect you and your need to get work done will honor that, and save non-emergency interruptions for later.

Special Complications

Your specific situation may not be so simple to fix. If you are dealing with children, they may need frequent attention. If you are someone’s caretaker, emergency interruptions may be unavoidable.

Being responsible for somebody is a job all by itself, and trying to do two jobs at once is stressful. Consider whether you could split the parenting / caretaking job with somebody. Even if you cannot free yourself for a full work day, you may be able to get an hour or three to do the work that takes the most focus.

Another option is to see if there’s some room for compromise. If interacting with you once an hour is enough, that may buy you better focus time between talk breaks.

Don’t Work Too Hard

Interruptions can lead to working too hard. If you are working longer hours to make up for the interruptions, or during the night because you’re too busy during the day, be careful. That can easily lead to too little sleep, not enough exercise, and high stress levels. The longer you keep that difficult schedule, the worse your stress and health will become.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, and it is possible to make the situation better now, do it. It gets harder when you’re worn down.

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