Dealing with disruption

Dealing with disruption

When the dust clears around this place, maybe I'll find my trash can—and a new sense of perspective.
Jul 01, 2008

Kristi Reimer
Lately there's been an environment of controlled chaos here in the Kansas City office of Advanstar Communications, where Veterinary Economics is produced. The reason? We're expanding into the office building next door and getting a little bit spruced up at the same time—new carpet, new (or new-to-us) furniture, and a fresh coat of paint.

This is all very exciting, and the transformations have been amazing. I feel a new kinship with all the veterinary hospitals we feature that have built new or remodeled. But there have been some headaches along the way. For one, my trash can is missing. How can a trash can just disappear? I have no idea. And I'm too busy right now to hunt it down or find a replacement. So I'm walking out and tossing my trash into the big barrel the construction guys are using.

Another disruption, this one near-crisis-level: The coffee machine has been out of service for days. I've always complained about our machine brew and the silty mug-bottom residue it leaves, but now that I don't have that legal addictive stimulant practically within arm's reach, it's started to seem like nectar of the gods. (One of my coworkers says he's been nursing a caffeine-withdrawal headache the size of Texas for about 72 hours now.) All of this is in addition to the drilling, demolishing, paint fumes, and blocking of hallways by large unfamiliar men carrying furniture caked with a decade's worth of dust.

You deal with your share of disruptions, too. From the client who arrives at your hospital with a patient in crisis to the interpersonal employee conflict that keeps everyone from focusing on the job at hand to the phone call from your spouse who can't pick up your daughter from school after all—a normal day in a veterinary practice is peppered with interruptions and distractions.

The question is, how do we respond to these potential productivity pitfalls? There are many possibilities. We can get crabby. We can become distracted by the commotion and forget to focus on our duties altogether. We can refuse to respond at all to the disruption even when it addresses a legitimate need. Or, we can muster the patience we know is in there somewhere and focus on the big picture. I'm trying to do the latter, even though I'm also guilty of some (OK, all) of the former at various times.

They say that how we react under stress reveals our character—we're like cups that, when jostled, spill a little bit of our contents for all to see. So I'm trying to keep that in mind and spill something nice instead of something nasty. All I ask is that you not judge too harshly before the coffee machine is up and running again.

Kristi Reimer, Editor