Friends, neighbors, countrymen, children, spouses, co-workers, telephones, email (“You have new mail!!), regular mail, the doorbell, and sometimes your own mind interrupts over and over again, every day.

How do we handle all that? Hopefully with tact and firmness. First we need to get firm with ourselves, set some boundaries.

If you owned your own business (maybe you do, but for those who don’t . . . ), you’d soon become aware of your need for time management. Maybe you’d read a few books, look for tips on-line, talk to people who seem to get everything done and then some.

One major trick is to prioritize tasks every day. For most of us, that means doing the most important things early (unless we’re those rare birds who do their best work after dark). After that, we can do some of the less important, but still necessary, stuff.

What’s this got to do with interruptions? Everything. You set a time when you are not to be interrupted unless, as one writer puts it, there’s fire or blood. Go behind a closed door, if you can.

Do the most important things when babies are napping, older children are in school, spouses are at work, no one else is home; in other words, when you are most likely not to be interrupted. If older people are home, get behind a closed door for an hour or so. Then come out, both for a breather and to catch up with everyone, let them know you’re thinking of them. Back to work if necessary.

The second part of this is to schedule the other type of interruptions, such as email and phone calls, for another time.

Scheduling can make the difference between chaos and getting things done. Play around with it until it fits you just right. Then stick to it for three weeks running (the time it usually takes to create a new habit), and see how much smoother your life is running, and how much more you’re getting done every week. You may be surprised because you’re more relaxed, as well. Now excuse me while I go do a few household chores. I do them in the afternoons because that’s the time I’m most sluggish mentally. Be sure to take your natural rhythms into account when planning your schedule. And please get back to me about how it worked. Remember—fire and blood.