Stacey D. Atkinson


This week I read an interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine about how chronic interruptions are assaulting our concentration and the bottom line. The article said that information overload costs the US economy $997 billion in 2010. I found myself nodding and saying "hell, ya," and vowing to do something about it in my own life. With a few simple changes, I was able to reduce my daily distractions and save money, too.

I don't know if you have the same problem as I do, but I am constantly interrupted at work, and the crazy thing about that is...I work from home! Even in a controlled environment of my own choosing, I am still interrupted throughout the day and it takes a serious toll on my concentration and productivity. So I made a list of my top annoyances and decided to do something about it.

1. the cats: climbing on my desk, biting at the paper coming out of the printer, stealing my pens

2. the landline phone: ringing daily with calls from RBC, CIBC, some 613.686.5002 number, and countless 1-800 and 1-888 numbers

3. the TV: turning it on at lunch while I eat and then realizing a whole hour has passed

4. social media: hearing that little dinging noise and checking to see who said what on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

5. email: feeling like I don't want to miss anything and constantly scanning for new, incoming mail 


Deciding that the cats could stay (I love their cute little faces!), I was left with how to deal with the phone, TV, social media and emails. I started by making a big, big decision -- cut the phone and cable. For someone like me who was raised on TV, this was a scary concept, but I knew I had to do it. I called Rogers and asked them to cut the services, and after a painful 45-minute barrage of upsell tactics, the agent finally agreed to do what I asked. The conversation was annoying and disrespectful (because she wasn't listening to me) and borderline illicit (she tried everything to keep me to stay, including a mysterious $160 cancellation fee), but I persevered. I am now rid of two daily interrupters--phone and cable--and I'm saving about $80 a month. I still have a cell phone, but I block the telemarketers so only the real calls get through. 

Next, I had to figure out a way to deal with the constant demand of social media and email. One really easy way to quiet the noise is to simply close my Chrome browser when I'm writing. That way, I have no idea what's happening in my accounts, and before I realize it, an hour's gone by and I've written several pages of new content. I'm also trying to stick to designated times to check my accounts, such as 8 a.m., noon, and 3:30 p.m.

I hope you, too, can find ways to reduce distractions when you work. Happy writing, everyone!

Stacey D. Atkinson is a freelance editor and author of Stuck, a novel she published via her independent company Mirror Image Publishing. 


2014-09-20 09:32:18 - Stacey
Ha, ha, yes, I'm keeping the cats. Funny to hear you also have a 1-hr lunchtime habit.
2014-09-20 07:39:59 - Jean Rath
Good idea to let the cats stay! I try to ignore the phone during the day, and go invisible on Skype. Even then it's hard to stay focused. The killer for me is my Armand Gamache murder mystery that I read at lunchtime. Yes, an hour easily goes by. Putting that book down is the height of self-discipline. I may have force myself to stick to work-related reading at lunch.
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