It’s finally happening.
Your fingers are moving. Thoughts are pouring out. Red squiggly lines are popping up everywhere, but you don’t care because you’re FINALLY writing. You know the editing will come later. You’re so exci—
“Can I interrupt you for a second?”
Yikes. Being interrupted when you're in the zone feels like an ex-boyfriend crashing a bride's wedding. Do you realize what you're doing right now?
Of course, occasional interruptions don’t seem like a big deal in the moment. A distraction here or there isn’t going to make or break the bank. But—with too many distractions—you're going to end up spending way more time working on your projects (and less time with your loved ones). Didn't you start this whole thing so you could spend more time with them, anyway?
Working from home and in a shared space can be difficult. No matter how well-intentioned your loved ones are, distractions keep you from your best writing. Like all things relationships, communication is key to getting ahead of those distractions.
I promise: you don’t have to lock yourself in your bedroom like an angsty middle schooler. There's no need for daily confrontations, either. Instead, try to set some clear boundaries with the Taco Hat Method. Here's how.
The Taco Hat Method
Earlier this year, I looked at my calendar and my upcoming deadlines and I knew there was NO WAY I would get everything done if I kept getting distracted. Not unless I pulled some all-night writing sessions (and this isn't college so...no thank you).
My partner and I were at Target and I found my answer: a baby blue baseball cap with an embroidered taco on it. It was perfect! Here's how I'd survive my next few weeks of projects and deadlines. This is what I said:
"Whenever I'm wearing my taco hat, you can't talk to me."
Brutal? Maybe. Effective? ABSOLUTELY.
Here's how it works.
Find a low-pressure way to signal when you need to be left alone—a hat, a sign, a trinket, a plant. Then, share your new boundary with those around you. And make sure you follow your own rule too! (If you're interrupting yourself and talking to everyone with your signal out, what does that say about your boundary?).
The secret to making the taco hat method work is to find a signal that makes you and your loved ones smile. Wearing a taco hat is SILLY. But instead of feeling rude for saying, “Please leave me alone” I can point at my hat as a gentle and loving reminder.
Sure, I could've gotten an actual “do not disturb” sign, but where’s the fun in that? Life’s too short to be serious. Besides, it makes the whole “Please don’t talk to me” thing less threatening and more endearing.
Choose what makes sense for you
I shared my taco hat method on Instagram and was DELIGHTED to get so many responses. Setting clear boundaries for loved ones isn’t easy; freelancers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and remote workers all understand the struggle. A few told me they say, “I’m not here,” when their partner tries to talk to them. Some are thinking about getting a hat now.
Freelance writer Nita Diaz took the taco hat method a million steps further and now has her very own writer’s cloak:
Nita was already a writing wizard and now she’s got the cloak to prove it. (I am totally jealous and will have to steal her idea come wintertime). The best part about the cloak? It’s magic. Nita said:
“I’M HAPPY TO REPORT IT WORKS!! Now when I wear it my husband knows he can’t talk to me or should approach with caution.”
Yep—approach with caution. That’s the whole point. The taco hat method helps you lovingly show the people around you exactly what you need from them right now. You’re not being selfish, rude, or demanding. You’re setting low-pressure boundaries to GET WORK DONE.
So find your own quirky signal to tell people when you CAN’T be disturbed. Something that shows your personality and makes you smile. Here are some ideas:
Do you love traveling? Put your favorite travel pic in a frame. When you’re in the zone, set the frame on your desk (make sure it’s easy for your loved ones to see).
Have a favorite Disney character? Get a small toy or trinket for your desk to signal your loved ones to kindly stay far away.
Obsessed with a certain kind of animal? Sloths, cows, penguins. Unicorns. Pick something that'll make you happy to glance at.
After hours of research, outlines—and planning your schedule to a T—you deserve to be as productive as possible when you have your writer hat on.
Sticking with it
Again, being firm with your boundaries doesn’t mean you’re rude or selfish. It means you’re prioritizing your business when you need to. Avoid burnout by protecting your time and communicating when you CAN’T be interrupted. Your business (and your relationships) will be better off for it. Now put your taco hat on and get back to work.