A Productive Day at the Office?

I find that I’m most productive when I’m working at the office rather than from home or from a coffee shop, but the reason for that might be less because it’s a work setting, and more because there are fewer distractions there (often, I’m the only one there). From Fast Company:

“If you ask people where they go when they really need to get something done, very few people will ever say the office and if they do, they’ll say really early in the mornings or really late at night or on the weekends when no one’s around,” says Fried. This, of course, cuts into people’s family and personal time.

Although it seems we’re working more, Fried says we’re putting in longer hours but accomplishing less because we’re not actually getting anything done at the office. Stepping away from the office, says Fried, is the best way to get meaningful work done. While for some, that place may be a coffee shop, for others it may be a library or a home office.

The quote is from Jason Fried, author of Remote: Office Not Required. Fried says the reason why it seems as if we’re most productive in the early morning or late at night is because those are the times when there are the fewest distractions at the office — no meetings, no water cooler talk, no getting pulled into discussions about other people’s projects.

Fried says there are a few ways to combat distractions, including creating a space for employees to go to do distraction-free work, or giving people the occasional opportunity to work remotely. But this may be the easiest thing to implement:

2. Schedule silent time: an afternoon without meetings, conversations, knocking on doors, or emails, just employees working in a quiet environment on the tasks they’ve been assigned.

I have direct experience with this! I once worked with an editor who got so worked up with the chatter in the office in the morning that she implemented “quiet time” — no one was allowed to talk for the first hour of work. Rather, we focused on sending out our most important emails and getting whatever work we needed to get done before becoming distracted by office chit-chat, which to be fair, was often related to things we worked on. “Stop talking about what you need to get done, and get it done,” she’d say.

And you know what, that first hour really was my most productive.

Photo: John Brooks