Coworking spaces offer a lot of benefits: A chance for freelancers or other professionals to work outside the home or office, surrounded by people with similar temperaments and ideals. These sites can offer excellent opportunities for collaboration or brainstorming, which help you to discover how others have solved problems that may be stymieing you.
But the same collaborative nature of the space can be distracting, especially as others in the area may not share your same deadlines or time constraints. So how can you stay focused? To find out, we asked nine entrepreneurs for their preferred hack for staying productive in a shared office or coworking space. Here's what they suggest you try.
1. Choose the Right Coworking Space
“Choose a coworking space based on the other people you will be around. We learn more by osmosis than we give ourselves credit for. Habits and routines rub off on those you're around most often, so pick somewhere that puts you around people you want to emulate.” – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
2. Get There Early
“Typically coworking environments get busy in the late morning or early afternoon. The best time to benefit from a quiet environment is arriving early when everyone is still in bed. You will have the space to yourself, and you will get more done with fewer interruptions. Then, when the space starts getting busy and it is hard to concentrate, go take a walk or better yet, go home and nap.” – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
3. Wear Your Headphones, Even If You’re Not Listening to Music
“There can be a lot of distracting noise when you’re working in any shared space. When you have your headphones on, you cut down on the ambient sounds even if you’re not playing music. It also signals to yourself and others that you’re in focus mode.” – Mamie Kanfer Stewart, Meeteor
4. Designate Use of Space
“If you have employees working in one communal area, designate space for one-on-one meetings and conversations. Certain projects require discretion and may be better suited for closed-off rooms. Additionally, little is more awkward than taking a personal call in a crowded room; giving employees a nook to pop into shows you understand the need for privacy without losing the open-office benefits.” – Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors
5. Create Recognized Breaks
“In a coworking space, try to take consistently timed breaks. If you let people know that every day you get up for coffee at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. and that you would love to connect about their weekends or latest book recommendation then, it will prevent them from dropping in or interrupting you during the day. It's not about ignoring people: It's about creating a time and space to engage with them.” – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
6. Turn Your Chair Away From the Action
“Simply turning your desk and chair to face way from the action, and thus not being able to see what's happening in front of you, helps focus on the task at hand. If you can see people mingling, you may be more inclined to join in the conversation.” – Renato Libric, Bouxtie Inc
7. Avoid Impromptu Meetings When Busy
“One of the best aspects of a coworking space is the opportunity for serendipitous collaboration. That said, unplanned, impromptu meetings can be huge time-suckers. If you find yourself stuck in conversation with someone when you know you have more pressing priorities, halt the conversation (politely, of course) and suggest you both put time on the calendar to continue the conversation in detail.”- Matt Hunckler, Powderkeg
8. Create a Daily Schedule
“Map out your day and sort tasks that you’ll want to get done before and after lunch. It’ll help you stay focused and be more productive. Start the day with little tasks, then build up to your most important tasks. You’re more likely to get back on track after a side conversation and stay productive.” – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. Track Your Time
“Tracking your time is a great way to stay productive. If you use a good time-tracking software, you can see exactly what you are spending time on and how long certain tasks take you to complete. Not only that, but if you are idle for five minutes, the timer will stop tracking your time. Time tracking visualizes productivity, which is crucial in a space where distractions come easy.” – Jared Brown, Hubstaff Talent