Getting better at working at the office

I’ll be working on a new project with a local coworker soon, which means I’ll probably come to the office more often. I’ve been spoiled by the ability to work from home on all of these projects where I’m either solo or working with a remote team, so I need to figure out how to make the most of being in the office.

I like the Aeron chairs and the absence of kitties who communicate their desire for an early dinner by nipping my ankles. I find the sounds of the office distracting: the white noise of airconditioning, people’s conversations, the clackety-clack of lots of fast typists in one place…

I find that listening to music with words interferes with programming or writing. Classical music is nice, but background conversations come through during the soft parts. I’ve started using white noise generators like Simply Noise, which do a good job of masking distracting sounds through randomness. My coworker knows she’s free to interrupt me when I’ve got my earphones on, so that’s fine.

The office is also a source of a little social anxiety of the “I really should recognize more names and faces, but sometimes I blank out” variety. Maybe I can make visual flashcards and go through them to memorize people’s names and faces. That would make it better.

I don’t get to nap at the office, so it’s more important to take regular breaks to keep my energy up. It’s easier to get a lot of light, though – the office has huge windows, a high ceiling, a light colour scheme, and a little park next to it. That’s pretty good. Walking around the block is a great way to take a break.

Winter will be here soon enough. What can I do to make winter work even better? I can wear brighter colours, leave heavy things in my drawer (yay, I have a large drawer!), and read books on my Kindle. That should make things better than last year’s winter, which was better than the year before that. This particular winter promises to be interesting, and it may require a lot of hacking.

Onward and upward!

  • Tom

    I find that listening to music with words that I haven’t listened to often is distracting, but that if I play older songs that I know through and through it doesn’t break my concentration. Psychologist call this habituation. Perhaps this would work the same for you as well.

  • Wow, this SimplyNoise site is nice. I think I’ll try using this to tune out all those pesky office distractions.

  • Beverley Eyre

    Wow, Sacha. I didn’t realize how introverted you are. Welcome to the club! Are you INTJ?

  • Beverley: I’m usually more P than J, and I switch between T and F.

    Mike: Yeah, noise works better than music for me because then there aren’t gaps. It’s pretty relaxing, too.

    Tom: I’ve tried that! Downside: humming or singing along, which can be odd in an open-layout office… =)