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In this era of epic busyness, the last thing you need is an office environment that distracts you from getting work done. Yet, your office probably does make it harder to be productive, whether you have your own private home office or work in a cube farm.
Here are some of the biggest productivity sappers and what you can do about them:
The bane of the open office environment isn’t the frequent conversations you might overhear, and it isn’t even movement (despite the constant prairie-dogging you get from people in half-height cubicles). You can learn to tune out a conversation going on nearby based on the predictable rising and falling intonations of people’s voices. And most of the moment in the periphery of your vision will only be noticed if you’re already looking up.
But unless you work by yourself, you’re likely surrounded by people talking on the phone. Those calls force you to listen to a “halfalog.” Yes. That’s a real term. It refers to listening to only half of a phone conversation. So why is it so much harder to tune out a halfalog than your two coworkers discussing their weekend plans? It turns out that it’s hard for your brain to predict when a voice will start and stop when you only hear half a conversation.
Solution: This is where some background noise is helpful. If you’re the kind of person who generally has laser focus, then just use white noise to drown out surrounding conversations. If you are the kind of person who is often distracted by different sounds, then music can also be a great way of masking the random sounds in the office.