If you have spent close to the last two years working from home, your job has likely been a lot quieter. But people who are now returning to the office are finding it tough to tune out all the extra activity again.
Those distractions can make your productivity suffer.
Regardless of your environment, if you are struggling to get more work done, some advice can help. In a new article for the Wall Street Journal, the publication shared some tactics to help you stay on track.
Many people accept disruptions because they feel guilty if they don’t. However, if you have a looming deadline then it is okay to prioritize that.
So if somebody stops by and asks if you have a minute, be honest and tell them if it’s not the best time because you have something urgent you need to finish.
Find Your Peaceful Spot
Not all offices mandate you work at a designated desk. Depending on the vibe of the office, your boss might be fine if you go for some privacy in a vacant meeting room, or in the cafeteria.
If you have options, utilize them. Some offices may even be fine with you taking your work to a bench outside to have some alone time for a couple of hours.
Ease into the Schedule
You might detect a pattern of your coworkers being especially chatty first thing in the day. If you know that is the case, factor it into your schedule.
If you have a list of duties that you can tackle in any order, maybe reserve the simpler tasks for early in the day so you can deal with the chit-chat while also getting things done. Save your big projects for when you know people have settled in.
Find Non-Disruptive Ways to Communicate
Just because you are back in the office does not mean every bit of communication now has to be face-to-face again. Send an email or a text so you can impart whatever you need to share without the potential to get pulled into a lengthy conversation.
It is not rude if you are genuinely caught up in a task that requires your focus and can’t step away from the desk.
Take Stock of the Benefits of Having Others Around
Sometimes your perspective on a problem really does make the difference. Rather than ruminating on all the ways it is inconvenient to be back in the office, try and think of advantages to being back.
Finding ways to be grateful can help dispel your irritation.
Create Your Own Sound Masking
Some offices have taken to installing devices to help muffle conversations so you don’t get distracted. But if your office does not have this, sometimes all you need is your own headphones.
Putting on some quiet, instrumental music can help drown out distracting side conversations and let you focus when you need to.
Shift Your Expectations
If you were more productive at home you might be frustrated that you can’t get as much done in the office. But that can be okay. Your boss might want you back as much to strengthen the camaraderie of the team as anything else.
Dwelling on the way you wish things were won’t change them back. Sometimes learning acceptance is the path to contentment.
Everyone has their own little routines that help them settle in and reach a productive point. Do your best to analyze what worked for you at home and try to transfer those qualities to the office space.
If you want more information for how to avoid getting sidetracked, read the Wall Street Journal piece here.
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