Concentrating in an Open Plan Office
Who here has ever tried to concentrate while on the phone in a restaurant? It sucks, but a lot of the open office design plans are kind of heading in the same direction. You're right next to your fellow coworkers and they're there on the phone and you're trying to concentrate. Your thoughts are going a million miles an hour and you're trying to work out how you can get this project and task finished, but all you can hear is them talking to their partner about whatever the argument they had the other night. So many people have concentration issues and I can attest to it myself. When I first started the business, we had a very small office. We had four of us crammed in there and it was like we're on top of each other. Heaven forbid someone drops a fart. We all had to go on a quick smoke or break because we'd be dead. It was quite a small arrangement. But you got to do what you got to do, and so we had to work with that environment.
What Worked for Me in Order to Concentrate
What we found worked really well was putting extra insulation up in the room, so there weren't as many reflections with the voice. That definitely deadens and dulls down the sounds, which makes it a little bit easier to concentrate. The next step we did was truck on and try out some of those noise-cancelling headphones, and I'm talking some decent noise-cancelling headphones. You can jump down the JB Hi-Fi or your local electronics supplier and check them out. Put them on and then have them turn the music up for something else they're doing around there and see how well they work. You'd be surprised. They're quite decent.
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Listen to Concentration Sounds Online
There's all these different sites and websites that you can use that give you information and songs and sounds that let you concentrate. Brain.fm is one of them that I am quite fond of. What I did was put on the noise-cancelling headphones and listen to whatever it is that they're playing. It's a lot of the time very tranquil meditating-type sounds. And it works really, really well. It definitely brings you into focus. So now we've got rid of one of the annoyances, which is the ambient noise. We've put you into a mindset where you now want to work and you're able to do that, but you've still got all these disruptions and bits and pieces in front of this monitor in front of you, as well as all the people that tap you on the shoulder and ask you, "What are you doing and how are the kids?"
Take Back Your Time: Stop Distraction
So the next step is a really cool programme that we use, called RescueTime, which lets you put in focus time, where it stops you getting distracted, stop you going to those very distracting cat websites, and gives you a bit more routine so you can get the task done that you need to do in an open office environment. As per people distracting you, that can be a bit of an issue, and there are not many ways around it. The best way is just to create an environment where they understand the issues and they know they're part of the issue, as well as you are. Even if it's just something as simple as a sign that says, "Currently engaged." You can have that sign up there just like you're in the toilet cubicle and they'll be like, "Oh, that's funny. That's right. Don't distract them." And then turn the sign upside down that said, "Vacant." Hopefully, you never feel vacant in your position.
The Final Word
That's a few little hints and tips that will allow for you to work and concentrate and really have laser focus to be able to achieve what you want to achieve in a work environment that has an open office plan.
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