Interruptions as Opportunities


cc photo by J. Delp

The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day at a time.  – C.S. Lewis

I like to plan my day.

I try to follow the tried and true principles of effective time management. I keep to-do lists. I schedule appointments. Each morning (or prior evening) I look over my lists and my calendar and I make decisions about the most productive way to spend my day.

And then I arrive at work. I am greeted by over eight-hundred and fifty junior high students, their teachers, and parents. From that point forward, I’m lucky if I look at my plan for the day. Stuff pops up that is not on my list. A staff member experiencing a technology issue. A student sent out of class for emptying a bottle of water on another student. A justifiably upset parent calling because scary clowns (high schoolers promoting a haunted house event) were chasing their student at lunch. Yes. This happened. I could write an entire blog post about this one incident.

My well planned day rapidly devolves into a series of unpredictable interruptions and scary clowns (literally and figuratively). I have typically viewed these intrusions as a source of frustration — things that are keeping me from more important tasks, appointments, and projects.

But take a moment and re-read that quote by C.S. Lewis. The interruptions are “real life.” It’s what I am being sent. One day at a time. One moment at a time. The possibility of supporting a staff member and helping them solve a problem. An opportunity to visit with a student about a poor decision and how we might make things right. The chance to acknowledge a parent’s frustration, demonstrate empathy, and reassure a student who was upset by scary clowns.

These are not inconveniences, they are opportunities — “real-life” experiences. They are only interruptions if I choose to view them as such. How boring life would be if it all went according to plan.