The optimum workplace environment would not include having offices or cubicle spaces near the break room, because such an arrangement could disrupt your productivity. However, if you are unfortunate enough to be situated in this location in your office, there are several ways that you can try to alleviate the problem of being distracted by the extra noise and foot traffic in the area. This article will address how to stay productive when your desk or office space is located near the break room.
See Also: 6 Ways to Make a Cubicle Feel Like Home
1. Limit Distractions
One of the first steps in staying productive when your desk is located near the break room is to limit your distractions. You may need to get creative with this process, but remember that in anything that you do or changes you make to your office space, get approval from management. Consider some of the following ways in order to increase your chances of limiting distractions.
- Music - You can start by using earbuds or headphones to listen to music to drown out noises; especially during the busy traffic times each day.
- White Noise – Use a white noise machine to drone out distracting noise by helping you to focus on calmer nature sounds like rain, wind or ocean waves.
- Relocation - Another option is to remove the distractions by relocating your position. For example, move your laptop or desktop station to face away from your doorway or cubicle entrance. This way, you will not be as prone to focus on passing foot traffic during the day.
- DND Notice – When you know the heaviest foot traffic is coming during mid-morning break time or lunch hour, hang a DND or Do Not Disturb notice by your cubicle entrance. Some people may ignore it, or find this silly. However, be persistent and keep hanging the sign and then ignoring anyone who wants to try to talk to you as they pass by.
- Escape – If you cannot avoid working near the break room, and you are constantly bombarded by noise, conversation and continual foot traffic, time your own breaks for those times and escape outside. If you wanted to have a working lunch, see if you can hide out in the conference room so you’ll be away from the majority of the noise.
2. Refocus Your Mind
The second step in the process of staying productive is to learn how to refocus your mind. You need to make sure that you can tune out all outside distractions and focus on completing your daily to do list. According to a recent study reported by Productivity Pro, “28% of the average worker’s day is spent dealing with unnecessary interruptions, and then subsequently recapturing focus.” Of course distractions can come from many areas. However, unnecessary distractions can come from working in close proximity to the break room in your office. So, make every effort to complete tasks and stay accountable to your to do list. Take a look at some of the following tips to help you stay more focused and productive.
- Mobile App – One way to stay focused while you hear constant noise and chatter near the break room is to hone your focus using a mobile app like RescueTime or ATracker. These apps help you to track your progress through timers and make you accountable to finishing tasks. When you know that you are being timed to finish work that will motivate you to ignore the distractions and focus on work. Take a look at these ten time tracking apps.
- Schedule – You can also help to refocus your mind by scheduling work tasks for the day. Sometimes if you are simply working and then hear people talking, you can become easily distracted and want to listen and join the conversation. However, if you schedule out your tasks, by prioritizing work, you increase your chances of staying glued to the schedule and staying more productive even while sitting near the break room.
3. Find a Work Buddy
Additionally, you can stay accountable to a work buddy. Find someone in your office whom you are friends with and is also a trusted and reliable person. If this person is located close to your office or cubicle, that would be the best scenario. However, even if they’re not, it would still be beneficial to your productivity to have a work buddy. Consider the following tactics when utilizing a work buddy to help you stay productive while working near the break room.
- Accountability – You need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge the fact that the workplace environment is impeding you from being as productive as you could be if you weren’t located near the break room. Share this fact with your work buddy and make a decision to ask this person for help when you become distracted.
- Implement - When there is a lot of foot traffic passing by and you’re tempted to talk to coworkers or get distracted, implement the action plan and make the call, send an email or text this person to get help to make sure you stay focused and don’t get distracted. Have an established signal that you need help like SOS or 911 that you can simply email or text to this person.
4. Speak to Your Boss
If the situation becomes unbearable and you are at your wits end and don’t think you can work in this type of environment any longer, you need to speak to your boss or manager about the possibility of somehow moving you to another office or cubicle location that is further away from the break room area. Consider the following suggestions when speaking with your boss or manager.
- Facts – The number one thing you need to remember when going to speak to your boss or manager is that you must be armed with facts regarding this issue. If you don’t have actual proof that this noise is impeding your productivity, you can come across as a complainer who is simply trying to get his own way. For example, keep detailed notes for one to five days of each time you were distracted by noisy foot traffic near the break room. It is important to detail what you were working on, how much the distraction negatively affected your productivity and how long it took you to refocus. This note-taking will take some time out of your schedule, but it will help to prove your case.
- Manner – Secondly, you must take this issue seriously so that your boss or manager will take it seriously as well. Keep your tone professional. Refrain from getting agitated or frustrated; especially if you receive a negative response. For example, if your manager does not decide to move you to another location, don’t storm out like a child. Make a decision beforehand to be calm and deal with whatever outcome happens. You may simply have to continue to deal with the situation or eventually look for a new job. However, hopefully, if you come armed with facts and present in a professional manner, your manager will agree to your suggestion to be relocated to another space.
Being productive in the workplace should be one of your most important objectives when you go to work each day. If you’re located near a high-trafficked break room area remember to find ways to limit your distractions, refocus your mind and find an accountability buddy. If all else fails, consider speaking to your boss about this issue.
Have you ever worked in an office or desk space which was located near a heavy-trafficked break room area? How did you handle the situation? Let us know in the comments section below.