How to Stay Productive in a Noisy Environment

Are you ready for a crazy statistic? According to a survey by Ipsos and Steelcase, office workers lose about 86 minutes of work per day due to distraction.

And do you know what’s at the top of that distraction list?

Nope, not cat videos on youtube.

It’s noise.

Of course, we all have different levels of noise tolerance depending on the task at hand. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that excess noise impacts our productivity levels, and it often does so quite significantly.

What’s more, this isn’t just a problem for people working in open office spaces. This is also a struggle for mompreneurs at home with her kids, office workers with loud-talking colleagues, and students in a noisy classroom.

So whether the distraction for you is a loud phone-talker, an intense meeting in the next cubicle over, or your kids arguing down the hall, these constant disruptions have a real impact on our productivity levels. We lose our focus, which takes us out of the “zone”, and often adversely impacts our quality of work.

So what can we do? How can we stay productive in a noisy space? Check out my top five tips and silence those distractions today!

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How to stay productive in a noisy environment

Dedicated quiet and talking spaces

Whether you work from home or in an open office layout, one strategy to stay productive in a noisy environment is to dedicate certain areas for silence and conversation. This provides the best of both worlds, as the talkers have a space to chat while those who need silence can also accomplish their work.

Designate specific “quiet times”

Similar to quiet locations, designating quiet times is another way to stay productive in a noisy space.

With this strategy, offices (or home offices) establish a time period when conversations are acceptable and a time when they are not. This allows people to schedule their phone calls, meetings, or intense reading and writing projects accordingly.

Sound-absorbing materials

If it’s in the budget, investing in sound-absorbing materials is another way to dampen noisy distractions. Harvard Business Review suggests “drop ceilings that soak up sound and incorporates shapes, colors, and designs. Walls can even be decorated with pieces that double as both high-quality soundproofing materials and unique pieces of art.”

How to stay productive In a noisy space Stay productive in an open office space, atmospheric noise, background noise, productivity and white noise, background noise and concentration, background noise for studying, background noise for working, background noise to help focus, productivity background noise #productivity #openofficedesign #officelayout #whitenoiseproductivity #whitenoise #workspace #workathome #mompreneur

Earmuff/headphone rule

Hongwei Liu suggests implementing a “headphone rule” for open office designs, which I think is absolutely genius.

Essentially, anyone wearing headphones or earmuffs at the office “can only be contacted via chat or email. This eliminates disruption towards someone who might be highly focused at that moment in time.”

Seriously, I think this is brilliant.

White noise

I love my white noise machine. I have one in my office to mask student conversations in the hall, and I keep one in my home office to drown out the noisy thoughts going around in my head. 😂 (If you’re interested, the machine I use is pictured at the right.)

Using a white noise machine is a great way to help block distracting conversations, clicking keyboards, the loud office copier, etc. What’s more, studies have shown that white noise improves learning! In fact, according to Kelsey McKinney, “in a behavioral experiment published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2014, scientists proved that simply putting white noise on in the background could help memory, and facilitate learning in distracting environments.”

How great is that?

If you find yourself struggling to ignore conversations and noises around you, consider investing in a white noise machine and get your focus back today.


Are you looking for more ways to increase your productivity? How about 25 of them? Download my list of 25 ways to boost your productivity here!

How to stay productive In a noisy space Stay productive in an open office space, atmospheric noise, background noise, productivity and white noise, background noise and concentration, background noise for studying, background noise for working, background noise to help focus, productivity background noise #productivity #openofficedesign #officelayout #whitenoiseproductivity #whitenoise #workspace #workathome #mompreneur

Question:

Are you sensitive to noise? Have you ever used white noise before? Do you work in an open office space? Let me know below!

28 thoughts on “How to Stay Productive in a Noisy Environment”

  1. thiscurvylife

    Man if I was only losing 86 min I think I would be so happy. The phone and my blog are such distractions. I am working on some of these things you mentioned so I can be more productive.

  2. I use a small fan on the floor of my office to create white noise and circulate air. It’s so soothing and drowns our sounds around me.

    1. That’s a great strategy, Catherine! Plus, it keeps the fresh air moving around, too. It’s a double win 🙂

  3. I needed this so much! I am so fortunate to have the ability to work from home with our daughter, but sometimes it’s just so hard to concentrate on work when she’s talking and watching movies in the background haha she’ll be one next week and she’s quite the handful right now. But I’m going to try these tips this week!!

  4. You have no idea how much I can relate to this hence the fact that I’m more productive from 1AM to 3AM than in the entire rest of the day! I used to wear ear plugs when I was in school to study, now I work at night XD

  5. Yes!!! I love that sound machine! It’s the best and it is also easy to throw in your bag if your traveling! Love love love it!!

  6. I thought this post was incredibly interesting. I personally don’t have an issue with noise as it’s just my husband and I working from home, but I can appreciate that I disturb him at the worst times. Maybe I could suggest to him the headphone rule? Thanks for the great tip! 💚

  7. 21flavorsofsplendor

    Such great tips! I need a little background noise through out the day, but I need to incorporate my quiet focused time into my day.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I definitely need my quiet time, too. I’m also part of the introvert club 🙂

    1. What a creative idea, Kris! I would never have thought to use radio static. I suppose that’s one of the few downsides of going digital, huh? Ha! 🙂

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