People hardly have enough willpower to completely ignore what is going on around them. That is because paying attention to anything that might endanger or otherwise affect our lives in any way was vital to a human’s early survival. Even today our bodies prevent us from completely focusing on a task when others are in view or earshot. Unpredictable sounds or sights – even a random flash from a shiny wind chime outside – can decrease our concentration.
Pick an isolated spot for your office. Put your home office as far away as possible from your house’s social areas, such as family room and kitchen. It might sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we would like to be in the center of the action and think we can still get work done. You might think you are an expert at working, carrying a conversation and watching television all at the same time, but the truth is you are not working efficiently. When you cannot hear or see conversations and activity, your mind will not divert its active capacity to listening or looking and you will work better.
Add some walls and doors to cut distractions. This office might not have everything going for it if there is no sunlight, but being able to close doors and block sound is imperative for preserving creative energy. Closed doors also signal that work is in progress and only important interruptions are acceptable.
If traditional walls do not work, you should try something else. Not every environment could support new walls and a door. Maybe you want an open flow throughout an entire floor when you are not working, or walls and a door would be too expensive to install. If that is true, you should add something like these sliding doors and wear headphones playing white noise.
Listening to music over headphones while you work is certainly better than hearing the TV down the hall, but white noise is better than either if you would like to do your best work. It is too easy to let your thoughts drift into a song. You could generate white noise by tuning a good old-fashioned radio between stations, or you can download free audio white noise tracks.
Become sunny. Being in the daylight during the day keeps your circadian rhythms in sync with your geographic location. Think that does not matter? When your rhythms are not right, your mental performance is poor, wounds heal more slowly and you fall into a sad mental and physical state. But being distraction free is even much more important than being in sunlight.
Decrease distractions with high windows. If there is so much going on outside your office window that distractions are inevitable, you should add high clerestory windows. If this fails, put heavy curtains on the lower part of existing windows to block as many distracting sights and noises as possible but still let in sunlight.
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Decrease visual complexity. Visual complexity is a complex thing to explain, but it is really important. To prevent cognitive overload when you are doing thoughtful work, it is important that your space does not have too much going on visually.
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Courtesy of Cuselleration