How to handle distractions in the office

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How to handle distractions in the office

There are so many possible distractions in the office, whether it’s a rude coworker playing loud music, or construction going on in the floor above you. This article provides a few solutions to these productivity-sucking problems, to help you get work done and keep your sanity.

Use white noise

White noise is a wonderful tool for drowning out distracting sounds like construction, office chatter, any traffic outside, and the general hustle and bustle of a busy building. If you are lucky enough to have your own space, experiment with Coffitivity on your computer. If not, invest in a good pair of headphones.

Get out of the office

Go for a walk if the distractions get too overbearing, or spend a few hours working at a coffee shop instead. Observe the hours where the workplace distractions are the worst, and see what happens when you take those hours away from your usual desk. This could mean walking across the hall and borrowing the meeting room, or going down the street to a cafe with wifi. You may find that the time you spend normally fielding distractions can turn into valuable, productive hours.

Deal with the source

To avoid your workplace distraction becoming a long-term problem, it’s important to address the issue as early as possible. If it’s another coworker, have a chat with them about it over coffee. If it’s noisy construction, find out how long work will be going for, and what hours to expect noise, and you’ll be able to organize your meetings and calls schedule appropriately.

Sample distractions in the office and solutions

A co-worker constantly wants to chat

  • Use headphones to send a subtle but effective message
  • Have a chat with the co-worker and let him or her know you’d love to talk over lunch, but need full concentration to do your work

Loud distracting music in the office

  • Invest in noise-canceling headphones and play ambient noise
  • Ask if the culprit would be willing to play one of your playlists

Too many meetings that break up the work day

  • Schedule all meetings for one day of the week
  • Limit meetings to 30 minutes at most
  • Switch to virtual meetings exclusively

Outside noises, such as construction

  • Find out how long the noise will continue and shift your work hours to avoid it
  • Noise-canceling headphones

Too many stimuli around the office

  • Organize your desk into a nook, using objects around your desk to create barriers
  • If possible, move your desk to a quieter location
  • Step outside for some fresh air or to work at a nearby cafe

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