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How Do You Stay Productive in a Noisy Office?

The past couple of weeks the QLP office has been undergoing some construction. Fancy new doorways and bathrooms are nice and all, but man is it hard to get stuff done with all of the loud noises that come along with construction.

Let’s be honest, even when there’s not construction it can still get pretty loud and distracting here at QLP headquarters. Whether it’s a bags tournament, drive-by trick-or-treating, remote control helicopters, or random sing-a-longs, there’s always something exciting (and therefore loud) going on here.

covering ears

When it gets too loud, just take your shirt off and cover your ears!

For some people a little background noise is helpful. Other people require complete silence in order to get work done. According to a study published earlier this year, there’s a background noise sweet spot for maximizing creativity: 70 decibels. So the chatter in a coffee house is perfect for fostering productivity, but loud yelling and power drills are way too distracting and complete silence isn’t stimulating enough. So how do you get into your productivity sweet spot?

Even though the noise levels around QLP may frequently rise above 70 decibels, we’ve still got pretty rigorous workloads to manage. Everyone has their own ways of staying focused throughout the chaos. We know we’re not the only ones with a distracting, noisy work environment, so how do you stay productive and manage your time when things get crazy at your office? Whether your boss is always shouting on the phone, your office mate is always listening to horrible music, or your co-workers are always gossiping, how do you still get work done?

cover your ears

Seriously every person covering their ears in a stock photo is topless. Is this a common thing?

We’ve written about workplace productivity and time management before. We’ve written about cubicle zen and taking naps at work. There’s no denying that there are countless ways for people to channel their energy and make the most out of their day at work, no matter how noisy.

When it comes down to it most of us rely on a rockin’ playlist and some good headphones. We may or may not be guilty of listening to “Gangnam Style” on repeat. A lot of us use some version of a browser extension that serves as a timer. Nothin’ serves as a motivator like a race against the clock! I use Chromodoro, a browser extension for Google Chrome that embeds a timer in your browser,  because it allows me to allot a specific amount of time for any given project. Amy uses an online stopwatch.

To keep myself from succumbing to distraction I also use the browser extension Nanny for Google Chrome. It allows me to block certain websites (*COUGH* Facebook *COUGH*) for a designated amount of time so that I’m forced to stay on task.

But enough about us. We want to hear from you! What do you do to stay on task when your work environment is loud and distracting? Do you use sound-proof headphones? Or do you rely on online tools for time management and organization? Do you take a break to meditate or walk around the block to clear your head?

Sound off in the comments section below and chime in with your own suggestions for staying productive in a noisy office! 



Jenna Markowski

Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+ and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Alex Brodsky

    This is perfect timing for this blog post!

    I was just saying how not being able to stream “Waddle and Silvy” (the sports guys) right now is hurting my productivity. Nice to know the “70 Decibels Rule” exists!

    I LOVE justification for my crazy theories!

  2. keith

    My key to productivity with the noisy office is 80′s Pandora. It keeps me going!

  3. Eric

    I’ve got a two-part solution: 1.) in-ear headphones, and 2.) instrumental film soundtracks. It’s not that I don’t like music with lyrics…I just find myself wanting to sing or hum along, and that’s more of my brain than I should have distracted from my work. Doesn’t hurt, though, that I can pop in a soundtrack like the one from “The Cider House Rules,” and suddenly imagine myself in rural New England. Definite bonus.

    • Rachel

      I listen to tons of film soundtracks too, Eric! Soundtrack lovers unite! Working on spreadsheets suddenly becomes more epic while listening to a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. :)

      Headphones and music are definitely my solution to a noisy office as well. The type of music depends on what project I’m working on or how noisy things are: instrumental for when I need to concentrate, regular lyric-based stuff for less thinky work. Sometimes Pandora’s comedy station too, when I need a change of pace or a pick-me-up. Switching up my music throughout the day helps me to block off time and mentally switch over to new tasks.

      Right now I’m mostly listening to Christmas music, though. :)

      Also, Jenna, your photo captions in this post had me snickering. It’s always an adventure browsing through stock art …

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’m more of the “get up and go talk a walk” camp. Though when that’s not an option, I’ll try and put on some chill music like classical, movie soundtracks, or light pop (is that a genre? It think now…).

    And sometimes, “Gangnam Style” and “Party Rock Anthem” are needed to refocus my attention. Depends on the kind of noise, I suppose.

  5. Mikey

    I’m also a member of the “listen to music” camp. A lot of rock and metal, for the most part. I do listen to some soundtracks, but most of those are from musicals or the like (so they’re not just background music, but actual songs). Music can really help keep me focused, and also provides a great pick-me-up when I’m tired or feeling down.

  6. Wash

    I definitely agree with instrumental music when concentrating on work and/or being creative….unless you’re listening to music you know REALLY well. I’ve found myself trying to listen very closely to music I’d never heard before, but I tended to tune out if it’s something I’d heard hundreds of times.

  7. Judy

    These are good advices as long as you can concentrate with music. I’m very sensitive to noise and I can’t concentrate with music. Earplugs work to some extend, but it is still too noisy for me. To me, speaking loud at the office is just a lack of respect for your coworkers. Point.

  8. Darlene

    I actually mentioned something about the noise level in our last office meeting. It helped for about half a day, as most of the noise is due to loud talkers and incessant conversations. Unfortunately, my position doesn’t really give me the flexibility to throw on headphones and tune out the noise. It’s really hard to concentrate!

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