Working in a crowded office is tough. Distractions abound, from chatty coworkers and ringing phones to useless meetings. Somehow, this only gets worse if your office has an open floor plan.
So, what’s a worker to do? How can you stay organized and protect your workflow, despite the distractions? Try some of these apps and techniques, and you’ll see positive results in no time.
1. Track your time
If your work involves strict deadlines — think any type of content creation — then check out the Pomodoro Technique for time management.
Popularized by Francesco Cirillo, this method breaks your time into chunks. The idea is that you work intently during the larger chunk, then take a quick break. After a few repetitions, you get a longer break. This helps you get smaller tasks done quicker and teaches you to spread larger ones into manageable chunks.
There are plenty of Pomodoro timers on the market, so you have a lot to choose from. Focus Booster — available as both a desktop and a web app — is a good option for those just starting out, as it’s simple and unobtrusive.
The free version is quite limited though, so you may want to upgrade if this method works for you.
2. Improve through process management
If you work at a small business, especially in any sort of management or decision-making position, you know how important company workflow is. These days, many companies not only use but get certified in the process approach to be seen as a quality business.
To help you out with the approach, try an app like CEOBoard. This robust app serves as a guide for upper level management.
It can integrate with several office software packages, including 1C software solutions and the MS Office suite. The idea behind this software is to trim your business through cost- and time-saving initiatives.
3. Organize your thoughts
If you’re one of those people tasked with large, complicated projects, you’ll need to break them into manageable chunks. This goes doubly so for large writing assignments.
It’s these kind of tasks where the app Workflowy will save your bacon — and brain cells.
At its core, Workflowy has one job — to make lists. Where it really shines is its high degree of flexibility. Instead of having separate documents or notes, everything you enter into Workflowy is accessible in one giant list. Each entry can have any number of sub-lists, that in turn can have their own child entries.
Single clicks allow you to zoom in and out on topics, and reorganizing your topics is as simple as dragging and dropping. You can even mark up related snippets with hashtags for quick searching later on.
The list autosaves and is accessible from anywhere you can get a signal. This makes it especially helpful if you’re regularly on the go or work on several different computers.
4. Make Google Calendar your to-do list
If you’re attached at the hip — so to speak — to your Google Calendar, why not make it work even harder for you? Chances are, you already use it to manage both your office and home obligations. Why not use it as a basic to-do list?
The beauty of Google Calendar is that it can sync your data with an astounding number of programs, like Remember the Milk and Omnifocus.
Once enabled, you’ll be able to easily add and remove tasks straight from your calendar. You can even add notes and due dates to tasks, which will then show on your calendar.
5. Stop distractions before they start
If internet distractions are keeping you from finishing your work, then a good internet restriction app should be your next stop. With these types of programs, it’s important to find one that works for your job.
If you have to do a lot of book research, then an app that blocks everything — aka, cold turkey — would be your best bet. Other times, you may just need to block your most common timewasters, like Facebook and Reddit.
Some apps, like SelfControl, persist even after you’ve uninstalled the application. This forces you to commit to your work — since, even if you remove the app in a moment of weakness, you still won’t be able to visit anything.
6. Drown out too much noise (or silence)
Sometimes, the most distracting part of the office is your coworkers. If people around you are constantly having conversations, it can be difficult to hear yourself think.
On the other hand, if there’s no noise in your work space at all, it might be difficult for you to avoid distractions.
Whichever is the case for you, check out a few white noise apps. These programs work by providing neutral or soothing sounds, which obfuscate the distracting outside noise.
While many use these apps for sleeping, they work just as well in office environments. There are plenty of free generators available, but, for a few cents, you can get an app with a lot more features.
Take, for example, the aptly-named WhiteNoise. It offers standard varieties of white noise, but with some extras that range from a fan to a purring cat. With such a variety, you’ll be sure to find your perfect work mix.
Getting all your work done is tough enough; don’t let workplace distractions make it even harder. From organizing your thoughts to tuning out the world — there’s an app for that! Just don’t get too distracted setting up the perfect environment.