Staying Focused

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Staying Focused

  • I've got an advantage in an open plan office in that I'm deaf. Remove my hearing aids and unnecessary distractions vanish.

    I print out my calendar for the day and quit from outlook, teams, slack, flowdock for two hour chunks. If it is urgent my colleagues come and speak to me. I think face to face communication is massively underrated. Technology that should bring us closer together somehow doesn't.

    Working out what dependencies I have or maybe helps because I can prioritize those to give myself larger blocks of time.

    The problem with Slack and similar software is that it tempts us to join in with online conversations that we don't necessarily need to participate in

  • I work in an open office plan, but we also have plenty of meeting rooms and secluded work spaces for when a fellow needs to focus.

    Also, it's easier to get into the creative zone when we have clear requirements, so it helps to do some research and organization in preparation for periods of actual production work. If you allow these steps in the creative process (requirements gathering, research, coding) to overlap or intermix, then neither gets done.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • When I'm in the Redgate office, we have an open plan. I either wear headphones, which sometimes work, or go find a small cube. We have a few available for concentrated work.

    No matter what, people can come disturb you, though I find in an open office they are more likely to do so. I love having a private office because I leave the door open if I'm ok with a quick question. If I'm working, I close it and tell people only knock for emergencies.


  • For me, it is a mixed bag. Over the last few years I've gotten much better making notes of my progress either in Word, OneNote or even sticky notes taped to my monitor. Its cut my time to get into the grove by 50%.

    On the other hand, my work environment isn't conducive to focusing upon a problem. I work in a large room, cube farm, with a lot of PC techs and IT support. Ad hoc meetings occur around me all the time. People on their phones answering users calls all the time. Everyone is doing their jobs, but boy is it distracting.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • I work best in an environment that has a constant background noise like a 20" box fan (good source of the right tone of "pink" noise for me) to drown out any spurious background noise and voices.  In the office, I actually dial up a YouTube of such a fan playing for 8 hours and wear a headset.  I also like a darker environment, which I can't get in the office.  Sunglasses don't seem to provide the same effect because they also change the way the screen looks.  Might try wearing a baseball cap to help cut the light from overhead.

    A private office would probably help with the noise and certainly the lighting but it won't help with the electronic drive-by shootings (email, Skype, AND Teams!!!), all of which I'm required to respond to almost immediately because I'm the only DBA for the company.  I wish that some people would just come to my desk instead of trying to have lengthy conversations electronically.  They take 10 times longer instead of talking face to face and then summarizing what was said or needs to be done in an email later.  Having a private office would probably make the electronic drive-by shootings even worse especially since I'd keep the door closed and the lights too low for most people's comfort.

    At one company I worked at, this one guy would send me a ton of PMs and Emails.  The idiot sat right next to me and could see me over the short divider between us.  I finally got to the point where I told him I wasn't going to answer his emails and that I blocked him from my PM system.  We got a whole lot more done both apart and together that way.

    I'd love to have time to really focus on stuff especially when I'm writing PoP code, testing it, and getting it ready for production.  That's why I've offset my hours.  That's why I usually from home until noon and tell people to call me if there's an emergency.  It's "focus" time.

    --Jeff Moden

    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • - Open offices actually make people chat and email more. counter-productive.

    Also Jeff, youtube has some great "slow tv" videos of train rides through Europe, India, Australia, etc. I enjoy those instead of just the fan noise, although I have used that too.


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  • For me if somebody interrupts me when I'm concentrating hard, it's like coming back from underwater. Context-switching is hard under the circumstances. When it's really bad I put my Skype on Do Not Disturb but I don't do it too much because I think people should be able to get hold of me on the whole if needed.

    I'm very lucky where I work, in that we can work from home as needed, and very occasionally I work completely offline if I've needed to do some serious thinking about a project. (I don't work in a support role ; obviously that wouldn't work if I did.) In the office it's common to wear headphones too, which I appreciate because I've worked in places where they were totally banned, and that really sucked.

    I don't find open-plan offices as stressful as I used to, so I assume we all adapt eventually!

  • jonathan.crawford wrote: - Open offices actually make people chat and email more. counter-productive.

    Also Jeff, youtube has some great "slow tv" videos of train rides through Europe, India, Australia, etc. I enjoy those instead of just the fan noise, although I have used that too.

    I don't know. From my own experience, it depends largely upon the people in the open space. I've worked in an open space environment, before it was called "open space". It wasn't a good experience. One guy was quiet and did his work. The lady in our group would only talk when she needed to ask a question or answer one. But the third guy was a constant stream-of-consciousness talker. Other open spaces have been better, but that's only because there wasn't someone there who felt they needed to fill the empty space with his/her voice.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  Rod at work.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Great issue to bring up. Work was already getting increasingly intrusive before the Covid pandemic. Over the past year, that intrusiveness has escalated. Some intrusion is the nature of the beast for some fields (on call, emergencies, etc.), but too often I see it as an excuse to expect employees to respond no matter what time it is. I see that as an ultimately corrosive effect on workers. Slack and texting seem like the worst offenders. It's weird to feel guilty for muting notifications from 11 pm to 6 am when I am not on call.

    Also, I think the open office plans are the physical structure equivalents of Slack and text. Nevertheless, I don't think that means requiring individual, closed-door offices for everyone. I was happy when I had a cubicle for myself versus open-plan seating. Even the modicum of privacy afforded by the cubicle shape was helpful for my focus. I don't know how it will be when I go back into a work building - maybe the social distance requirements will help resolve some of these issues.

    Thanks again.

    -- webrunner

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by  webrunner.

    A SQL query walks into a bar and sees two tables. He walks up to them and asks, "Can I join you?"

  • When I was first in the workforce, a few of us reconfigured 3-4 cubes into one space, which we liked. Later, I shared a private office with someone and enjoyed that. I've worked in both, and I can't decide.

    These days I mostly need my own space to get work done, and I'll sometimes get a private space in the RG office for an hour or two.

    I think it somwhat depends on my job. When I was in a lot of phone meetings, I needed an office. Steve is far too loud to be in an open plan space

  • @webrunner, I understand where you're coming from, but at least for me I no longer want to work in a cubicle. I did that for 5 years. It was as bad for me as an open office situation. My next-door neighbors were always on phone calls (it was their jobs to be on phone calls, since they were tech support), visitors popping into their offices often, etc. Highly distracting. Pre-pandemic I would suck it up and ruin my hearing by putting on headphones to try and drown out the sound. Now that I've had a year working from home with far fewer sounds, interruptions, etc., I've decided that my volunteering to ruin my hearing for my employer isn't worth it. They're not going to pay for permanent hearing loss.

    Of course, my situation is likely different than yours.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • @rod at work I totally understand. I do have a slightly different perspective in that I was moved from a cubicle office with relatively few people to a bullpen-style setup with no privacy or sound insulation at all. So to that extent it would be an improvement to go from the bullpen back to cubicles.

    But I do agree with you about working from home. I had always thought I would not like working from home, but as you said, the freedom from in-person interruptions and distractions is a good thing for my focus. Even the "water cooler" conversations, which I really enjoyed in the break room at work - I don't miss them anymore because all they did was break my focus. Even though in that sense my work is more stressful (no small talk to take a break from work), when I do focus at home it greatly reduces my stress because no one stops by to chat with my neighbor and so on.

    -- webrunner

    A SQL query walks into a bar and sees two tables. He walks up to them and asks, "Can I join you?"

  • Hey @webrunner, I can see why working in a cubicle is so much better than working in a bullpen such as you've described. If I were in a situation such as the bullpen you've described, it would be very hard for me to concentrate, too.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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