Tips to Help Manage Interruptions and Stay Organized for People with Disabilities

Reading time: 5 minutes


On top of standard life admin, people with disabilities can face additional interruptions such as medical appointments or necessary errands. As a temporary staffing agency for people with disabilities, Galt Foundation understands how difficult it can be to get back to work and regain focus after an interruption, which is why we created this guide on how to manage those interruptions and stay organized.

Work-life balance is difficult to achieve for many people. For people with disabilities, there can be extra challenges that may impact focus and productivity. On top of standard life admin, such as laundry, childcare, and meetings, people living with a disability may also need to schedule infrequent doctor’s appointments, medical-related breaks, or sensory overstimulation time-outs.

As a temporary staffing agency for people with disabilities, Galt Foundation understands how difficult it can be to get back to work and regain focus after an interruption, which is why we created this guide on how to manage these extra interruptions and stay organized. 

Prep Your Work Space to Manage Interruptions

When life throws distractions your way, it’s good to be prepared. Your work space should be quiet and organized to enable you to be your most productive self. Excess clutter in your work space can be overwhelming, distracting, and stress-inducing. Regularly declutter by throwing away, donating, or storing items you don’t need in your immediate vicinity. 

It’s also a good idea to have a way to record important information available at all times, whether it’s a pen and paper, a voice recording device or phone app (such as AccessNote), or other electronic device, especially if you require assistive technologies or software. This way, you can easily note appointments, memos, or meetings that come up. 

Another way to stay organized in your work space is to have a calendar or planner to give you a clear idea of everything happening during your work day. If you are blind or visually impaired, VO Calendar is a weekly calendar app specifically designed to be used with VoiceOver. If you prefer physical planners, there are many options for hourly planners that allow for better organization of any appointments, meetings, and reminders. 

Prioritize Your Tasks

If you have a good handle on your to-do list, distractions don’t seem quite as distracting. At the start of your work day, prioritize your list using an Urgent-Important Matrix by making a four-quadrant chart with urgent tasks to do first in the top-left, important tasks to schedule in the top-right, urgent tasks you can delegate to others in the bottom-left, and tasks that aren’t urgent or important that you can remove altogether. 

You can also use the 1-3-5 Rule, which breaks down your tasks into one big thing, three medium things, and five little things to take on for the day. In terms of which task you should start with first, you might want to take the advice of late American novelist Mark Twain who once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Basically, do your least favorite task first. 

For those with a developmental disability such as Autism, attention or auditory processing deficit, learning disability, or anxiety, there are apps that allow you to create visual guides for schedules or steps of an event or an activity. 

Improve Your Productivity After an Interruption

It takes nearly 25 minutes to get back into a task after being interrupted. Luckily, there are various techniques to help you get back on track when coming back from an appointment, break, or time away from your work space. 

The first tip is before you leave work for a period of time, bookmark your progress just like you would with a book. This will make things a lot easier to find when you come back. 

Another tip is to work in a cloud-based service, such as Google docs. Not only will it automatically save your progress, you can view past edits to refresh your memory. You can even give access to the document to a colleague or supervisor to help you jump in again if needed.   

Take your time as you begin work again. Research has shown that people are more prone to making a mistake in their work if they try to resume it immediately after being interrupted, instead of taking two minutes to gather their thoughts and regain their focus. This is especially helpful for people with learning disabilities or anxiety. 

Focus on Your Mental Wellness to Avoid Overstimulation

A busy day filled with interruptions can be overwhelming for anyone, let alone someone with a disability who may have frequent appointments or medical-related interruptions, or be prone to sensory overload. Make sure you’re taking care of your mental wellness to ensure you’re able to physically and mentally tackle your busy schedule. 

There are several apps to help you focus on your mental wellness. Headspace is a guided meditation app to help get you centered and mindful. Similarly, Stop, Breathe and Think is another guided meditation app, but it can be used hands-free for those with mobility issues. 

For people with Autism, Miracle Modus is an app designed to assist in dealing with sensory overload. 

Let Galt Foundation Help

With Galt, you can find an employment opportunity that fits your schedule, including part-time placements and flexible hours. If you are a job seeker looking for opportunities, get in touch with one of our associates for more information, or submit your resume. You can also reach one of our qualified experts by calling us at 1-877-361-1277.

More Stories

Contact Us

Let’s start a conversation! Are you a person with disabilities searching for a job or an organization with temporary or long-term employment needs? We look forward to helping you realize your potential.