Scattered Chatter ll

Some time ago, I related the following:

My office environment and its upside

I work in an office where cubicles are spread out as far as the eye can see. This environment affords the opportunity to talk to your team mates and hash out project issues without having to go all over the place looking for a specific person.

The Down Side

The down side is all the distractions generated by lots of people either shouting across cubicles, phones ringing, and yes, team mates talking to each other.

Cubicle conference calls are the death knell of productive programming. For quite some time now, I and others have noticed the amount of scattered chatter that breaks our concentration. Once you pay attention to something like this, every time you hear it, not noticing it becomes a task. A very distracting one. Just like a leaky faucet!

What do to about it

If you are in the same boat, here are some ideas that may help.

  1. Put headphones on
  2. Check email twice a day
  3. Tell everyone
  4. Turn spam filtering on
  5. Banish Growl
  6. Create IM office hours
  7. Silence your phone
  8. Eat lunch out of the office
  9. Become an early bird
  10. Clear your desktop

Want to know more, go here: Eliminating Distractions

My current solution

Since then I have obtained at least three pairs of headphones, together with binaural beats for my iPod and other apps for the iPhone! I’m currently using iBrainWaves on my iPhone together with my Bose Noise Cancelling head phones (QC 15).

They are not cheap and they cost even more due to the fact that I bought two other pairs of headphones, one in-ear, another over the ear which was quite effective by just putting them over your ears but not comfortable to wear all day.

The QC 15s are in the middle of the road. Computer and fan noise are noticeably absent. Talk across the cubicle as well as phone ringing is muted.

I have gained some control over my environment once again and can now focus on the task at hand. I was not this sensitive to chatter before. I just seem to loose my concentration while programming, designing, troubleshooting code when conversations around me get going.

I’m curious, is anyone out there is experiencing lost focus and being distracted from the task at hand by your surroundings? What you’re doing about it? Have I become affected with ADD all of a sudden?

If you happen to stumble upon this note, share your thoughts. I’m open to suggestions.

Update: 12/30/2009

My headphone use has increased. The chatter is gone to the point that when I have them on, folks have to come and tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.  That can be good or bad. Will I here the fire alarm when it goes off? Everyone in the office leaves and I will not know about it? 🙂


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