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Interruption and Annoyance

Context shifting can be rage inducing.  Many of us get emotional when interrupted.  For those interrupting us, it can be stressful if we have reacted badly before.

When you focus on one particular type of task, challenge, or information set, then switch to something completely different, you’re shifting contexts. Sometimes, the transitions are huge and jarring. Other times, you don’t even notice them… Frequent context shifts throughout the day can be extremely distracting and impair your ability to concentrate. Douglas Merrill

At worst, it can be like being woken from a deep dream, where we are achieving something beyond our imagination. Suddenly jolted into trying to understand what, where and why have we been disturbed.  Trying to regain our perspective.

Being perturbed or indeed pissed off that another agenda has been forced onto us. Especially when not at a time of our choosing.  We all know when we have triggered this in others.  When they struggle to contain their irritation, shedding the pleasantries.

It is easy to be irritated when interrupted, a populated office can be a difficult place to work individually.  For my monthly reporting, I would usually take a day to hide out at home, turning the phone off to get them done and submitted.

Taking Stock

In researching this, the bigger the team, the greater the shifting required of us.  Seeking to be collaborative, to be there when called upon.  Interviewing established leaders, many struggled with an open-door approach, leading to constant interruption.

Ever sat in a meeting, while your mind was still in the last one?

Failing to be present, we are unlikely to be a contributor to this one unless we can snap out of it.

Back-to-back meetings required me to immediately shed the past discussion and get mentally prepared for the next one.  When I didn’t do this well, I’d be distracted and overwhelmed, my mind constantly jumping from one topic to another.  Julie Zhou

Struggling to function more as the day goes on.  There is no escaping the need for context shifting, being prepared for the day ahead can assist.


As can creating room between meetings, the opportunity to where possible restructure meetings.  Making them short, sharp and productive, so that they don’t take the usual 30 or 60 minutes, but rather 25 or 45 minutes instead.

Thus, giving breathing space, to recover, to clear the decks and be ready for our next meeting.  Recovery can assist us with our resilience.  As can time for reflection, like on a commute, or making notes to self at the end of the day.

Without the space, we can struggle to live up to our expectations of our behaviour.

Photo credit Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

Special mention Donna Mc George – The 25 minute Meeting



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