The monotony of a long heroic poem may often be pleasantly relieved by judicious interruptions in the perfect succession of rhymes, just as the metre may sometimes be adorned with occasional triplets and Alexandrines.

~ H. P. Lovecraft

People who started their television journey by watching Doordarshan, would remember the signal failures and that irritating message that would pop up on the screen 

Interruptions 2


But in real life now,  interruptions come without even an apology of any sorts.

You are out for a nice walk, early morning, happily listening to sounds of nature, the chirping birds, the wind and enjoying the feel of the morning air and there comes Mr Sharma and his pet Moti. While Sharma ji has to has to share his views on the latest developments in the country, obviating the need for you to  eve read the newspaper, Moti irritates you further by sniffing at your legs and licking your pants. By the time Mr Sharma ends his news bulletin, the sun is bright and shining and its futile to continue the walk. You are left wondering whom to blame for curtailed walk, Mr. Sharma, Moti, God or yourself.

You had set aside two hours to study non stop in the afternoon, when your best friend messaged ‘urgent’ and requested a callback. And when you call him, it emerges that he was not able to concentrate on his studies and needed moral support, thereby breaking your own concentration as well. The day ends up being a total waste after that and you fall short of your targeted work. You are left wondering, whom to blame for the lapse, your friend, God or yourself.

You were in the kitchen, all set to make your dream Italian dinner of  bruschetta, soup, and lasagna, when Mrs. Shrivastava barges in, asking for some coriander. The Coriander was just the pretext for coming in. Her real intent was to share the latest gossip in the neighbourhood, how Mrs Gupta’s daughter was going around with Mrs Malhotra’s son and the parents had not got wind of the affair. Looking at the burnt bread in the toaster, you are wondering whom to blame for it, Mrs Shrivastava, the erring kids, God, or yourself.

However, interruptions are not always unwelcome. Many times, they are just what you need, to change your mindset, give you a new lease of life, get the idea that you were failing to find, etc. Remember when you were twiddling about on the project work, not sure how to proceed further and your dad made a simple suggestion which turned things around ?  Remember when you were idling away in the evening and your friend called you down to play cricket, the change in the mood helped you to finish heaps of homework subsequently ? Remember when you were wondering why the dal was not tasting right and it was Mrs Joshi’s suggested ingredient which gave it the perfect taste ?

What appears to be an interruption is often an intervention.

Rich Wilkerson Jr.

Interruptions, wether expected or unexpected, pleasant or unpleasant, short or long, they all have a purpose and meaning. These are orchestrated by God to either break the flow and help you retrospect on what you were doing or to enable the flow that you were missing in your work. These happenstance are a memory refresher, that while it’s important for you to ‘concentrate’ on the task or activity on hand, it’s also important for you to remember that you are a social animal and your true success is in making the optimum use of the environment and support eco-system around you, not by ignoring it.

At root, a pearl is a ‘disturbance’ a beauty caused by something that isn’t supposed to be there, about which something needs to be done. It is the interruption of equilibrium that creates beauty. Beauty is a response to provocation, to intrusion. … The pearl’s beauty is made as a result of insult.

Julia Cameron

Sometimes, interruptions might lead to complete closure of the activity. Maybe the business idea, based on which you had drafted the business plan and building the prototype, is not only not-new, but it has been replaced with something more advanced and successful. Imagine how much time, effort and money you saved because of that (perceived) unwelcome interruption. 

Let’s not confuse interruptions with distractions. Distractions are what your mind initiates, when you are not focused and finding it hard to concentrate. You look at the phone, hoping to see some interesting message or update. You pick up the book or magazine in the shelf, hoping to be reminded of an interesting story or information.  These distractions need to be curtailed as they are unproductive in nature and a big deterrent to doing ‘Deep Work’, a term coined by Cal Newport, famous author Computer Science professor at George university. He stays that the real work is done when you are ‘Indistractible’, a term coined by another famous American author, who in a book with the same title, gives science-based insights to build healthy habits, improve productivity and focus, and manage distraction.

Other people’s interruptions of your work are relatively insignificant compared with the countless times you interrupt yourself.

Brendan Behan

So in summary, while you look for a deeper meaning in the interruptions going forward, don’t fret too much about them either. The beauty of  doing great work in ‘flow’ is not just that able to finish a task despite interruptions, but also to get the ‘meaning’ of those interruptions and benefit from them.