The trendy open office has become all the rage in the modern workplace and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. There are many benefits of working in an open office like the ability to easily collaborate and quickly hold a brainstorming sesh with your team. It is can also be a much more inspirational environment than the dreadful cubicle setup. But working in an open office is not always unicorns and rainbows with hi-fives all around. It can be filled with constant distractions and sometimes give you an up close and personal look at some of your coworker’s annoying behaviors. How can you maintain focus? You need a productivity hack. Here are a few suggestions that work for me.

1. Find a Private Area or Take a Walk

Most open floor plans have a few spaces that are available for privacy or phone calls. If you need to focus your energies for an hour or two, find a way to slip into those so you can get a distraction-free environment. If your office doesn’t, then take it outside! Taking a quick stroll in the great outdoors, or concrete jungle, can do wonders for your mood and help you regain your focus. Even if your workplace has privacy areas that you can escape to, it’s always a good idea to go out for a moment and get your vitamin D and set your circadian rhythm.

2. Create A Quiet Signal by Wearing Headphones

There was a time when wearing headphones in the office was a no-no. Now it’s an accepted signal that you want privacy, especially in open office spaces. You don’t even have to put music on. Just wearing them is enough. Make sure you put on an Oscar-winning performance for the “Most Annoyed” when someone disturbs you and requires you to remove them.  If your office still considers headphones to be unprofessional, try to develop a signal that the rest of the office will know means “do not disturb”.

3. Keep Your Personal Space Clean

To achieve enlightenment and unclutter your mind, you must always keep your desk organized and tidy. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your desk, just so, and to put things in a pleasing arrangement. Make it part of your daily wrap up routine. Of course, you can control the cleanliness of your desk, but what if your office is a mess? After all, you’re not there to chase your coworkers around to clean up after. A completely clean workplace is imperative for keeping your focus in an open office. That’s where we come in. Unsullied put’s your workplace’s cleaning needs on autopilot. Our thoughtful crews come through each night to clean and reset your space. This way you can have a fresh start each morning and concentrate on GSD and staying focused! Check with your office management team to make sure your office is on a professional cleaning program.

4. Use Your Library Voice or Set Quiet Hours

When you think about it, an open office is a lot like a library. So why aren’t libraries a crazy zoo like your office is sometimes? It’s because there’s an army of librarians ready to shush you out of existence if you talk too loudly. While that may never happen at your office, you could try to set some rules to treat the open area as a library space, if only for a couple of hours each day. It will improve productivity and will help you think a little straighter. And it might feel great to shush your noisy coworkers down.

5. Use Task Batching to Set Boundaries

Good headphones and staying quiet will cut down a lot of distraction, but if you have that one co-worker who pops up every minute to talk shop then you need to set some boundaries. Put together a structured schedule to discuss work with your teammates. Ask them to batch their communications and bring an organized list of needs or questions they have for you at specific times. You can set a block of time when you’ll be free to talk with them about work-related matters. At first, they may ignore the set time, but unless they need you to reattach their dismembered arm, firmly remind them that it’ll need to wait. If you are really looking for incredible ways to hack your productivity, you have to check out the Pomodoro Technique and all things “batching”. We practice this at Unsullied Industries and it is truly a game changer that has enabled us to tackle our daily priorities like well-oiled machines. Right now, I’m writing this during my weekly time slot for blog post creation.

6. Work Remotely

Working from home, or simply not at the office, a few days a week can be an effective strategy to maintain focus. This not only grants you time away from workplace distractions but also changes up your environment which will stimulate your mind and creative juices. If you must convince your boss to get on board with this plan, you don’t have to do it alone. Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom has the results that prove how this will improve your production.

I hope that some or many of these methods will help you regain your focus and boost your productivity? Let us know in the comments of any other tips and tricks you have found helpful in dealing with distractions at work. Different strategies work for different people, but we should all have a clean and healthy workplace as a baseline. If you’d like to clean up your office, there’s not time like the present so get started today!