Many times I have been in important meetings which were interrupted by telephone calls from family members of those in the meeting. Each person who receives the call seems to have a different way of handling this. Some people talk with joy and enthusiasm, ignoring those in the room. Some get involved in what appears to be arguments between their children and try to resolve the situation. Still others keep the call to a few short words that inform the family member that this is not a good time to talk with a promise to return the call later.
Once I was with another psychologist when his son phoned him. He clearly told the boy "If you want to wait until I get home so that we can discuss this, that would be good. If you want a decision right now instead, then the answer is NO". The call ended quickly.
I remember when my children were young, they knew very clearly that they were not to call me at work unless they were bleeding or throwing up on the rug. They knew that there were other times that they could call me and that I would treat this with high respect - primarily because the calls were not frequent - and deal with the situation immediately. However, using the guidelines listed conveyed the message that it was important to not interrupt the workday,.
Now you might think that this is very unreasonable and that family should be first in your life. Unfortunately, this leaves you open to taking interruptions at any times of the day,. The person calling never needs to learn how to problem solve and your focus is shifted.
There are times when the family member who is demanding your attention is a parent or sibling or partner. Even though you care about that person, however, you need to be very cautious about how much time and energy is placed on personal and family demands during your work time. Let's say that you have a five minute conversation and then it takes five more minutes to get back into the project that you were doing. If you receive an interruption from your child, mother, partner and a siblings, you will have lost forty minutes.
That is why you really need to have good healthy boundaries.
Years ago I had a secretary who came into my office one morning and plunked herself in a chair. She said "Look, I know that you have some problems outside the office but when you come here you always smile and act as though everything is fine. How do you do that?"
My reply was simple. "I learned a long time ago that when you are at work you need to focus on your job and when you are at home you need to focus on your family and personal life".
You see, if you don't learn to separate things and have boundaries, then family demands can hurt your business.