I love to work in the quiet with no one around.
I am hypersensitive to noise – I cannot think when it’s loud. And when others are around I give myself permission to skip work and chat.
Clearly this isn’t very effective which is why I am lucky to work in my ideal environment every day.
I rent a little house on horse farm in the rolling hills of Virginia and as you can see from the picture, there are trees, a big sky, animals that surround me…and very few neighbors.
Other than my cat requesting to be let in or out for the zillionth time, I am not interrupted. Most days I sit at my desk or curl up on the couch and start writing, the only sounds being the birds twittering outside.
This works for me.
And for many, many others, this scenario sounds like a torture chamber straight out of hell.
For them, silence can be deafening, their home can offer far too many distractions and procrastination can run rampant.
For them a lack of people can be very, very lonely.
Interruption-Free Project Time
I talk a lot about the importance of including interruption-free project time in your schedule.
Protecting your time to focus on your highest priorities is one of the critical first steps to getting out of “catch up mode” and getting back on track with your time.
But that doesn’t mean you have to work in a quiet, people-free environment that isn’t at all conducive to how you think. It does mean experimenting to find the environment that best supports your focus and productivity.
What you need in order to focus may be vastly different than what your wife, co-workers, or boss need. It is your job to figure out what works for you.
Here are 5 alternative work strategies to get your creative juices flowing:
Starbucks – For some, the noise of a coffee shop offers the perfect backdrop to keep you engaged and focused on your work. Music can also do this.
Meetup Group – A client of mine found this brilliant Meetup group for people to gather and write. No talking, just writing. Start your own and see what happens.
Business Incubator – This type of space is for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business outside of their home but without having to make the financial commitment of designated office space. You get an amazing amount of support from the site and the business owners around you.
Co-Working space – This is a growing trend in cities across the country where you can rent shared working space by the hour, day, or month. You get the focus and excitement of being with other people like you. Check out here, here, and here – a space dedicated solely to creative types.
Body Double – A concept from the world of ADHD, researchers have determined that many people focus better when someone else is in the same room as them, even if they are working on different things. Use this concept to get creative: find a friend to come work at your place, get co-workers together in your office, get other business owners together to work at the library.
Wendy Hanson, a radio-host and business coach based in Oakland, California just recently found her ideal work setting – lovingly referred to as "The Hub". She and 3 other business owners rent a shared office space just a few miles from her home.
Wendy and her “co-workers” are clear on 2 things:
- Time spent at “The Hub” is not for bill paying, phone calls, or other such riff raff – it is to focus on big-thinking projects
- At pre-determined times throughout the day, everyone stops working to ask each other questions, brainstorm and get feedback on their work.
How brilliant is this?
As you can see, they are leveraging the power of working separately and the power of working with others at the same time.
This helps everyone stay focused on their own individual priorities while simultaneously look forward to a "break" where they can socialize and connect with people in the same boat as them.
Sound like heaven?
I encourage you to take the strategies that most resonate with you and start experimenting to find the work environment that most supports you today.
What type of environment do you work best in? Fill us in on your creative solutions below.