June 16

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Learn how to block out the noise and and loose unnecessary distractions

By Ralph Varcoe

June 16, 2020

productivity hacks

6.8   Block the Noise Out

Productivity hack no.60 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.


If you have to work in an open plan office then I offer you my sincere condolences. While they can be fun at times as the banter flows and you temporarily feel the warm glow of love for your colleagues (even the normally very irritating one), they can be bloody distracting.

As you settle down to your action list, needing to concentrate and give it your all to finish by the deadline, you’re aware of the conversation being held at full volume over in the corner about how the dog needs to go in for grooming or the green fees at some overpriced golf course in Buckinghamshire are rather steep. Somehow, the harder you try to block this irrelevant stuff out the louder it seems to get.

Then there’s the sales guy with absolutely no emotional intelligence who shouts across your desk to the person sitting next to you about what he needs them to do for his customer. He calls out to another sales guy about the awesome night they had ‘drinking it large’ with their customers last night.

Like you needed to know that!

I’m all for a bit of fun and bonding with colleagues, but there’s a time and a place for it which is not at top volume across a crowded open plan office.

The solution is to work from home or in a meeting room, but assuming those aren’t options, headphones.

Even if you aren’t listening to music, which we’ll come on to in the next section, but simply want a bit of peace and quiet, headphones are the answer.

And categorically not those little ear buds that hang from inside your ears. Why? Because no-one can see them unless they are standing right next to you.

No! You need the biggest, most obvious over-ear headphones that scream “Back off. Leave me alone. I’m having some me time and focusing on becoming awesome.” Most people will think twice about disturbing you if you wear them.

If you can afford some noise cancelling headphones from Bose or the like, I’d recommend them. They won’t completely eradicate all sound but they’ll muffle it so much that you’ll feel like you’re in your own world.

No noise means you can focus on getting the job done pronto.

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Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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