Over in the corner of the office, two of your coworkers are talking to each other about their upcoming weekend plans. Both are cackling maniacally, but it’s only 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. To make matters worse, a team member who sits three chairs away from you in your open office is blasting music, while a nearby small group of three is having a brief chat about a project they’re working on together.
Meanwhile, you have like 100 tabs open in your browser, 7 of which are work related. And you have so much work on your plate you don’t know what to do with it.
One thing becomes immediately clear: with all of this noise and distraction coming at you from every single angle, it looks like it’s going to be at least a little tricky — if not altogether impossible — to get all your work done on time.
Indeed, it can seem incredibly difficult, at best, to make progress when your coworkers — or your Internet habits — are distracting the heck out of you.
Is your productivity struggling due to noise and other distractions in the workplace? If so, consider these seven tips on how to remain effective in a chaotic organizational culture (self-induced or otherwise):
01. Put in your own headphones
Are people bumping loud music that’s making your work seem that much more difficult? Sure, you could ask them to turn it down. But maybe you don’t want to be seen as the “bad guy” — there’s no shame in that.
Take matters into your own hands and bring headphones to work. Listen to your favorite tunes, and you’ll be able to focus more intently on your own work.
02. Designate quiet areas and quiet times
Are you managing a boisterous office? To maximize team productivity, you could always designate certain times of the day — let’s say, 9 to 11 a.m. — as quiet times so people can stick their nose down and do work.
Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone has to be completely silent. Just respect the fact that others are trying to work. If you have enough space, your quieter, more introverted workers may also appreciate you designating quiet areas of the office. When things start getting a little too lively, these folks could always leave their workspaces to head for calmer climes.
03. Designate “loud” times
On the flip side, you could also choose to designate certain times of the week when your staffers are expected to be particularly verbal. Blast music, have a snack, tell stories, and have a beverage.
If your office has become particularly boisterous, let your team know that such behavior is perfectly fine — but just not all the time. There’s a lot of work to be done, after all. Remember the old adage: everything in moderation.
04. Take a break
Sometimes no matter how hard you try to concentrate, the cards just won’t fall your way. That’s not a problem. Reaching peak productivity requires taking breaks at regular intervals.
If you’re finding it impossible to get things done in a noisy office — or you’ve gotten sucked into yet another Internet black hole — take a walk outside to recharge your batteries.
05. Work from home
If you work in a loud office and have a particularly frightening amount of work on your plate, tackle your work at home. If your company isn’t on board with remote working, it’s time to get up to speed. The data shows that remote workers are happier and, therefore, more productive than their peers who are forced to labor away in the office every single day, regardless of how busy they are. Let your employees work from home. They’ll be more productive if for no other reason than they won’t have to commute that day.
06. Use apps designed to make you focus
It’s 2016. If you’re unable to get through your workday without checking a zillion unproductive websites and social networks, you shouldn’t be embarrassed. The good news is you don’t have to go it on your own.
If your willpower is weaker than you’d care to admit, you can use an app like RescueTime to get more work done every day. The app lets you know how you spend time on your computer over the course of the day. Spending way too much time on Facebook? Use RescueTime to temporarily block the site.
07. Study mindfulness
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard about how the philosophy of mindfulness has made considerable inroads in Silicon Valley and corporate America.
Essentially, mindfulness is the belief that the more in tune we are with ourselves, the better we’re able to control our behavior and focus our attention. Practice mindfulness, and you should be able to tune certain noises and distractions out — and tackle more of your work.
There’s no way around it: even if you work in one of the quieter offices in the world, there will eventually come a time when your coworkers are incredibly noisy, distracting you beyond belief. And, assuming you work on a computer, there will inevitably be times when the distractions of the Internet work against your productivity.
The good news is that you’re not powerless against noise and other distractions. When the going gets tough, consider the above tips and you should be able to stay on top of your work.