Trying to concentrate in a noisy environment can be a very difficult task. Whether it’s chatty co-workers, loud machine noises, or a neighbor who insists on having long conference calls on speaker phone, noisy distractions can have a significant negative effect on your productivity. However, there are some simple methods that can help you deal with the noise and focus on your work.
#1. White Noise Machine – A white noise machine generates a sound that is random but soothing like running water or wind. It is capable of blocking out distracting noises. Use of a white noise machine is also dependent on the policies of your office. Another option that can produce a similar effect is to run a small fan on your desktop. If the fan is noisy enough, it can also block out distracting noises.
#2. Listen to Music – Depending on the policies of your office, you may be able to listen to music with headphones while you are working. If this is the case, then you can easily block out unwanted noise. The potential downside is that you may block out all noise and not be able to hear the things you need to hear to effectively do your job.
#3. Tune it Out – The simplest method is to tune out background noises while you are working. This works especially well when you enjoy the work you are doing and can get into a rhythm where external factors do not affect you. Sometimes, it becomes easier to tune out noises over time as you gradually get used to working in a noisy environment.
#4. Use Ear Plugs - Using ear plugs is another effective way to block out unwanted noise. However, if you need to hear anything to perform your job duties, ear plugs may be too effective. They are best for people who do not have to interact with others very often during the day.
#5. Ask Co-Workers to Be Quiet – Taking the direct approach and asking your co-workers to be quiet can solve the problem of distracting noises. However, it is important to be tactful and approach them in a non-confrontational way. It is important to realize that sometimes the noise that annoys you is merely your co-worker doing their job correctly.
#6. Talk to Your Boss About an Alternative Location - If you just happen to be in a noisy part of the office, you can talk to your supervisor and ask to be moved. It is in your manager’s best interest for you to be as productive as possible so they do have a good incentive to move you. However, many times people are grouped by department and if it’s inconvenient for your boss to have you in a far-off quiet spot, moving may not be the best option.
#7. Go in Early or Leave Late – Offices are generally quieter early in the morning and later in the afternoon or evening. If you can adjust your work hours, you may be able to accomplish more during these times to make up for your lack of productivity during peak noise hours. It’s a good idea to try to schedule tasks that you can do by yourself during these hours since there are often few other people around.
#8. Work from Home – More and more companies are letting their employees work from home. This can be an excellent alternative to a noisy office. However, home-based work can come with an entirely new set of distractions that can affect your ability to perform at a high level. Only people who can be highly self-motivated should consider working from home.
#9. Meditate - Although not for everyone, meditation can help you to relax your mind and block out distractions. This can help you to ignore all that extraneous noise. Meditation takes practice and is not a quick or easy solution.
#10. Find a New Job - If none of the other solutions work out for you, finding a new job is a last resort. This should only be considered if the distractions continue over a significant period of time and cause you a significant amount of stress. However, finding a good work environment can be an important part of a successful career and happy life.
Guest Post: John Brook writes for OfficeKitten.co.uk, one of the top UK-based suppliers of stationery online for businesses.