No matter where one works, there is always “noise” of some sort that can interfere with certain tasks. Some tasks require absolute focus and attention, without interruptions. Realizing this, it is sometimes important to close the door, turn off the phone and put out the “do not disturb” sign. Even without a private office there are ways to signal others that you are not to be disturbed and then to use this quiet time productively. One shouldn’t abuse the “do not disturb” mode and overuse it or else your lack of accessibility will create new problems. It is important to share your preferences with co-workers, employers, and employees, for when you need quiet time to concentrate. Work out the signals ahead of time to avoid workplace conflicts. In our work I find the need to go on “do not disturb” mode when doing proposals and reports. These things are easily anticipated, but there are times when I must go into instant “do not disturb”, for example, when the phone rings with a call from a potential new client about a new case. That call requires uninterrupted attention to digest the information and to ensure that the client is handled with the respect he/she deserves.
There is nothing I like more than LOUD music, except when I want it to be quiet. I often find the noise pollution in my daily life intolerable, to the point I cannot think. Our company’s headquarters are located on the ground floor, in a suburban area that contains other businesses, including retail establishments as well as high density housing, and it can get noisy, with barking dogs (one of the most horrible noises, in my opinion), garbage trucks, construction work, ambulance sirens, etc. Given the amount of high level thought required for me to perform my job, I have employed a variety of coping methods to reduce the distraction caused by noise pollution. Closing the door and silencing the telephone often are insufficient to silence the noise around me, so I have started wearing noise cancelling headphones on the occasions when outside noise is unbearable. I usually wear the noise cancelling headphones (manufactured by Bose, not an inexpensive imitator) with white noise or other soothing sounds played by my iPhone. This method works well in my office, on an airplane when I am trying to work with a screaming child nearby, or anyplace else when I must concentrate to the exclusion of everything else going on around me. As you can tell, I am an advocate of what George Harrison said long ago, “Leave me alone, don’t bother me…”!