By Taylor Landis

Whether you work in a busy open-plan office or a crowded cubicle farm, distraction from noise, coworkers, phones ringing, etc. will be ongoing disturbances in your workplace. Yes, even cubicles don’t block out noise and distraction enough to give you a quiet place to work. You spend your whole day trying to focus on your tasks, all while you’re being interrupted by coworkers, phones are ringing, you overhear personal conversations and phone calls, even the squeaking noise of other coworkers’ chairs or someone else’s fingertips beating away on their keyboard and clicks of their mouse pulls your focus away from your work.

So, how do we block out as much noise as possible and focus long enough to actually get some work done? These tips will help you limit the distractions and create privacy in a busy office space.

If you work in a cubicle farm…

…you probably thought that nothing could distract you. You have your own private, quiet space with no interruptions, right? Wrong. Believe it or not, cubicles do not block out noise. And, you’re actually sitting extremely close to your coworkers. You’re only separated by a fabric panel. So, have you ever thought of cubicle dividers? Cubicle doors are actually a thing as well. If you’ve ever been interrupted by uninvited coworkers standing in the doorway of your cubicle just talking and talking about nothing important while you’re trying to get your work done, then you understand this necessity.

Sliding cubicle doors hang nicely on your cubicle panel and effortlessly slide open and closed for an interruption-free work zone. Rolling cubicle dividers serve the same purpose, except they have wheels allowing them to slide conveniently in front of your doorway. Nothing says, “do not disturb” like a cubicle door or cubicle divider. Now you’re completely secluded. And if you’re in a friendly and welcoming mood (because occasionally that can happen), just leave the cubicle door open and have a conversation with a few of your coworkers; about work-related topics of course.

If you work in an open-plan office…

…room dividers and privacy panels should do the trick. Well, hopefully your company invested in some acoustic decorations, office lighting, or panels to help control the noise levels a little bit. Room dividers simply separate you from your coworkers. This will not necessarily control noise, but it’ll give you some privacy for the time being, and hopefully prevent any interruptions. Privacy panels will help you construct your own version of a cubicle. Again, these might not help with the noise control, unless it’s an acoustic privacy panel, but you will have a private, uninterrupted workspace to knock out a few tasks.

Create the most functional and efficient layout because…

…if you’re a small business owner, your company is only as effective as the employees who work there. Ensure optimum productivity and efficiency by providing them with a functional work environment. Distractions are everywhere; eliminate as many as possible in order to receive top quality work from each and every employee, no matter how big or small the project.

If all else fails…

…you can just buy yourself a pair of headphones and hang a “do not disturb” sign on your cubicle wall. Most people won’t interrupt when they see the sign. And I did say “most.” There’s always that person that thinks just because they knock, they’re free to enter any room they want, whenever they want. And nothing blocks out noise like headphones do.

If you’re like me, listening to music helps you focus. If music distracts you, listen to some calming and relaxing background noise; like the ocean or the rain. Just try not to fall asleep at your desk. And if someone ignores the “do not disturb” sign and interrupts anyway, keep the headphones in and just smile and nod. Unless it’s your boss; then you should probably lose the headphones for that conversation.

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