How in the name of all that’s holy do you get s**t done in a co-working space?
Co-working spaces are taking off all over the world 🌏. When you Google co-working space the rest of the search field is populated with city names and nothing else! It’s the way of the future, apparently, so we better get used to it.
Co-working spaces are great for those who don’t want, need or have a fixed office space. Whether you’re a freelancer out and about, a work from home mum who just needs some space, or you love the opportunity to get out and meet new people, there’s probably an ideal co-working space for you.
It’s not finding one that’s the problem, though. It’s getting used to them and ensuring that you remain productive 📈 in a strange place.
Co-working spaces can be full of distractions that result in loss of focus. People up and down from their desks to get drinks, go to the bathroom and talking loudly on the phone are the main concerns I have.
Being nosy by nature, if someone gets up, I want to know where they’re going. If they’re on the phone and not being discreet about it, I want to know what they’re talking about! It results in a loss of focus for me, looking away from my screen, losing my train of thought, or my spot in a piece of text that I’m editing.
From my experience of working in an open office space in the corporate world, through to my experience in co-working spaces and knowing my own personality I’ve come up with some tips to help you stay focussed and remain productive.
1. Find a quiet area to work.
A secluded spot facing away from main areas will reduce the number of visual distractions and can help you in ensuring your space is quiet or separated from loud noises.
Whilst some people love to work in their local coffee shops there are just too many distractions for me. The noise, the movement and the smells, just don’t work well. If your only option is a more public place, try and find a quieter, off the beaten track, coffee shop. You might sacrifice the quality of the coffee (!) or find your next favourite space but the quieter surroundings will definitely help in your productivity levels.
2. Create a visual boundary.
Do you have a large bag to carry your tech? Or are you like me and a fan of the over-sized handbag? Well, use it! If you can set it to stand up, to block your direct line of site to a specific distraction then you’re onto a win.
Even at home, in my office, I have myself placed away from the window to ensure I don’t sit and day dream or become interested in what the neighbour’s cat is doing in my veggie patch (eww)!
3. Create a sound boundary.
Use sound to drown out distracting noises. I even do this at home. The click of someone else typing, talking loudly on the phone or the ‘pew pew’ of a Star Wars game in the lounge (being played by my grown-up husband, I might add), they all need to go!
Chose your sound and off you go. Some people love the focus tracks on places like BrainFM or Spotify. My current poison is movie scores, specifically The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings scores which run for over 6 hours. That’s a good batch of music without having to change albums or playlists.
OK, so now your distractions are sorted it’s time to think about how you’re going to remain productive in a strange area.
I’ve seen many social media posts from colleagues getting distracted in their co-working space by the view and the facilities, that it sometimes makes me wonder if they’re there to work or promote!
It’s time to get to work:
4. Keep yourself accountable.
Be responsible for the work you need to get done. Have a clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve during this time and have your task management system, or to do list out and visible and start ticking things off.
5. Take breaks.
LOL, without getting too distracted with what’s going on around you (maybe this is where all of the photos are coming from)! We all know it’s essential to take breaks during work. Even if it’s popping to the loo, getting a drink and doing a few quick stretches in front of your screen, get up from the chair and give yourself a refresh.
If you prepare yourself, you give yourself a real chance at getting work done in an unfamiliar location.
“I usually pick a table that's more out of the way of an entrance, a smaller table so I don't take up too many spots, and I always prefer al fresco when possible!”
Jo Bolin, Virtual Manager
Very considerate of those around her by choosing a smaller table and not spreading out too much. Staying away from main thoroughfares to avoid further distractions and, of course, who doesn’t love to work al fresco when possible.
“Definitely use sound, having the radio on when I work from home drowns out sounds of kids etc. Tho sometimes I then find the radio is a distraction too! For me, short bursts of work are the most productive things for me, to avoid going into daydream mode!”
Sarah McGuire, Estate Planning Consultant
Again, reminding us all that daydream mode needs to be avoided, really at any time you’re knuckling down to work, but especially when you’re in an unfamiliar place and paying to be there!
“At least in an office you get used to your co-workers over time and settle into a routine.”
Perhaps AWT is onto something here. Maybe instead of frequenting multiple co-working spaces sticking to the same few locations, or even with the same brand, will assist you with feeling like you’re in a more familiar place each time you need to visit.
“Everything you said is 100%”
Pat Patterson, family friend.
Thanks, Pat, glad to know that I’m making sense.
So, there you have it some excellent tips for working in a co-working space. But, really, these tips could help increase productivity and reduce distractions in your home or work office, too.
What tips do you have for spending time in co-working or open office spaces?