Frazzled by Interruptions

posted in: Boundaries, Energy | 0

First thing in the morning, I eagerly tackle my big project. I am in the zone, creative juices flowing! A half hour in, I get an exciting email. Ooh! This will just take 10 minutes! While answering the email, I get a text inviting me to lunch next Wednesday.  I’m starting to text my reply when my phone rings. Fifteen annoying minutes later, I wrap up the call. All these interruptions are really bugging me. I remember I’d sent a report to the printer, but on my way to the printer run into a coworker who wants to talk about her challenges with her teenage son.

When I finally get back to my desk, I’m frazzled, my creative juices evaporated. I reach for the report. Not there. Hmm. Did I ever make it to the printer? Did I lay it down somewhere?  And I have a vague feeling that I dropped another ball or two along the way. It’s only midmorning, but already I can’t wait for my terrible, horrible, no good day to end.

Interruption-riddled days happen at home, work, school, even on vacation.  But after years of spinning multiple plates—and feeling proud of how many I was spinning—I’ve learned three secrets that keep interruptions from stealing my peace.

1. Quit interrupting myself. 

Most of my interruptions in my terrible, horrible, no good day were self-interruptions.  I interrupted my creative project to answer an email, my email to answer a text, and my text to answer a call that could have gone to voice mail. When I feel compulsion to interrupt myself, the problem isn’t with others’ demands; it’s with me. Not only is frequent task-switching frazzling; it also sabotages productivity.

Now when I start to interrupt myself, I usually catch it right away and return to my original task. “One thing at a time” has become my mantra.

2. Create interruption-free zones for certain kinds of work.

When I’m reading, writing, praying, or preparing to speak, I need chunks of uninterrupted time. Some people can do this kind of work at home, others prefer a Starbucks, a library, or a lake cabin. Some close their office doors and everyone knows this means, “Do Not Disturb.”  Even Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places” (Luke 5:16). My morning project called for an interruption-free zone. Some of my frustration came from choosing the wrong workspace.

3. Recognize when interruptions are divine appointments in disguise.

I can choose to view my coworker with the family problem as either an interruption or a divine appointment. (See Mark 10:13-16.) If I see an interruption, I’ll feel imposed upon.  If I see a divine appointment, I can be fully present and walk away energized.

When I quit interrupting myself, carve out quiet spaces for certain tasks, and welcome divine appointments in disguise, I can navigate most days without interrupting my peace.


  1. Which of the three practices are you best at?
  2. Which would you like to get better at?

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at

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Follow Eddy Hall:

Author. Pastor. Consultant. Coach.

My lifelong passion has been to help the church become healthier. I have lived this out through youth work, urban ministry, denominational staff work, and pastoring; through writing, editing, and publishing; through consulting with churches throughout the U.S. and Canada. During this season, I am living out my call to help churches become healthier by focusing on helping church leaders become healthier and more fruitful, through writing, coaching, and leading retreats and training events.

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