Working in a shared office space has plenty of perks—flexibility, convenience and lower rent, just to name a few. Then there’s the added bonus of having plenty of other small business owners and professionals around who you can bond with, network with, bounce ideas off of and get inspired by.
But what about for those times when the buzz of conversation around you isn’t quite so inspiring? Sometimes, when you need to focus and concentrate, being surrounded by other people can be a bit distracting. How can you find your focus, even in the middle of a busy environment?
Here are some helpful suggestions:
1. Wear Headphones
Is noise what’s bothering you? Depending on how quiet you want to be, you can grab your earbuds and MP3 player and listen to music while you work. If you really need to block out outside sounds, consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones (those from Bose typically get high ratings). For a lower-cost solution that’s still pretty effective, you can pick up a pair of moldable silicone earplugs at most drugstores.
2. Invest in a White-Noise Machine
Studies have shown that a moderate hum of noise (the kind found in your average Starbucks, say) can actually make you more creative. Of course, it’s hard to keep the noise in a shared environment at a consistent level. That’s where a white noise machine can help. You’ll find machines that play a range of sounds, from rushing mountain streams and ocean waves to gentle winds. This can help level out surrounding sounds so you can stay focused.
3. Use Distraction-Blocking Apps
Maybe you’re able to ignore your surroundings, but you get sucked into checking Facebook every 10 minutes or surfing the internet for cat videos. Check out this list of six apps that can turn off those tempting online distractions—such as Freedom, which keeps you from surfing the net for a time you specify—and you’ll get a lot more done.
4. Reward Yourself
If you’re distracted because you’re dying to talk to your office mates, use that urge as a reward. Work for an hour, then spend 15 minutes socializing. Bonus: Walking around and talking to others will energize you for the next burst of concentrated work.
5. Take Advantage of Your Office Space’s Options
Sometimes switching your surroundings can be all you need to buckle down. Take time to explore the other options that your shared space offers. If you always work in a common area, for example, maybe you should book a few hours in a conference room. If you have your own office, spend some time in the break area or lounge.
These types can help you be more productive, even if you are surrounded by other busy professionals.
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