My phone rang for the fifth time in two hours. I looked at the caller ID and groaned. Not because of the person, I love her, but she represented one in a string of many interruptions.
“I heard you were home. Wanna go shopping?”
“Can’t. I’m writing today.”
“Oh. You want to grab a cup of coffee then?”
I swallowed down frustration. But then, I remembered a policy from my day job.
I said, “Would you mind if we scheduled? I haven’t really treated writing with the professionalism it deserves.”
At work, when I’m involved in a big project, I sometimes tell everyone not to disturb me unless it’s important enough to call me out of a meeting five hundred miles away. I haven’t given writing the same care. I think I’ll turn my home office into a Writer’s Cave. Once I crawl inside and shut the door, I’ll turn off my phone. If you see a post on my social media that says “I’m in the cave,” you’ll know what it means. At home, the closed door will signal my family. Does that make sense?”
My friend connected with the practicality of my situation, and we scheduled a later visit.
So I took the leap and crossed into other relationships.
I sat my family down and told them about the Writer’s Cave. “When I close the door, let me burrow in my work. If you’re tempted to disturb me, ask yourself these questions:
- Can it wait?
- Would I interrupt her if she were five hundred miles away?
- Would I call her out of an important meeting to tell or ask her this?
They agreed, and in return, I promised regular hibernation breaks so we could have fun and catch up. My husband and I scheduled weekly dates.
Next, I told my co-workers. As a manager, employees often assume they can call any time, day or night, working or not. I don’t mind true emergencies, but often, my phone rings over petty questions. I asked everyone, including the president of our company, to respect The Cave as they would a project at the office.
I said, “If you’d call me out of a meeting five hundred miles away, then contact me; otherwise, please wait until my return.”
Then, I spoke with my other friends, explained the Writer’s Cave philosophy, and found they supported the decision. Every single person respected my new resolve to schedule.
Since adopting this policy, my concentration improved, my word count increased, and I’ve completed more projects. I’m a better time manager. But more than anything, by proactively guarding my time and alerting the world in advance, I’ve prevented most unnecessary interruptions without offense.
Now, people ask, “Are you in The Cave tomorrow?”
Crawling into a Writer’s Cave helped me move past unproductive habits. By speaking up, I shed light on a dark problem.
How do you maintain focus? Or, what does your Writer’s Cave look like? What are three essential items that you must take with you into the Writer’s Cave?