5 Ways to Tune Out Loud Coworkers and Focus on Your To-Do List

Once you’ve had the Americano with four shots, type keys click into place as you catch up on work in the magical ambiance created by coffee shop noise. The barista foams the milk for another latte. Strangers gossip over a shared French press. Why can’t the office be like this?

Where coffee shop ambiance hones your focus, a noisy office filled with chatty coworkers, feisty fax machines and hand-eating copiers destroy your chances for a productive day. To encourage team cooperation, your employer wisely decided to place your desk next to Frank, who lives up to his namesake. This guy has an opinion for everyone.

All you want is to check off the items on your to-do list and let your face meet your pillow for a good night’s rest. Tune out the loud coworkers and obnoxious machines, and regain your focus with these actionable steps:

  • Be Honest. Speak up about excessive noise levels, rather than allowing the noise ruin your productivity and negatively affect company operation. Don’t be rude or snap. Be precise, casual and tactful, with polite honesty. Bad office etiquette needs to be addressed, such as unnecessary gossiping, but be aware: sometimes noise comes with the job territory.
  • Come in Early or Leave Late. Why not come in a little earlier or leave later? These times of the work day are quieter. Finish difficult tasks during the most peaceful time of the day. Complete lighter tasks, checking email or running office errands, during the noisy parts of the day.
  • Sound Proof Your Space. How is the noise traveling? To beat it, determine if you’re in the same room with the loud noise, or is it coming through the walls? Stop vibratory noise in its tracks. Use sound absorption products like acoustic foam to reduce reverberations. Acoustic partitions offer physical barriers to deflect noise.
  • Get in on the Action. As much as you want to bring a drum set to office — don’t. Treat your loud coworkers like a snoring spouse, by using a small fan to generate white noise. Music positively alters your mood and boosts your well-being. Wear ear buds and listen to smooth jazz, classical music or rain falling on a tin roof.
  • Center. Outer noise increases your inner noise, as your mind complains about Frank’s yammering. Find a mindful practice, such as reading, taking a walk or deep breathing, and do this activity during a quieter time of the day. Create a mini-mindful routine to use as a time to check in with yourself if the noise exceeds your patience threshold.

These suggestions will help you reduce noise and stress levels while cultivating a more productive and healthier work environment for all. You’ll conquer your to-do list and get home in time for peaceful shut-eye.

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