Whether you’re working from home with children or roommates or working in an office space with coworkers, there is likely a hefty amount of chaos around you! I’m sharing a few productivity tips to work around the chaos and stay on top of your shit.
I know my work environment is especially chaotic, and I can’t think of too many other environments that have one up on me. Exceptions, obviously, if you work in a school or a hospital, or at home surrounded by children. You all win. There are definitely places that have tougher deadlines or more urgency than my office, but there’s nothing like the craziness of the college media world.
So, long story short, I consider myself an expert on how to work among chaos!
If you too are surrounded by chaos – or if you just struggle to focus under the best of circumstances – I’m sharing a few productivity tips for staying sane and productive despite the craziness.
Consider why your workspace is so chaotic.
First and foremost, I want you to ponder why you work in such a chaotic workplace. Does it need to be that way?
For me, my office is chaotic for a few reasons:
- There are only two full-time employees.
- We work with students, who have schedules that do not necessarily match up with traditional 9-to-5s.
- We are a newspaper and a marketing agency, which are both fast-paced and hectic industries by nature.
- Our office is completely open – so, I do not have an office with a door that closes.
I love all of these things about my job, but it does mean I have become a pro at working among chaos. Well, I’d like to think so, anyway. I know why my job is chaotic, so I know how to work among chaos. Get it? I can anticipate the chaos and work around it, instead of letting it rule me.
Which brings me to…
Don’t let the chaos control you.
You do not have to be guided by the chaos! Again, unless you’re a teacher or working in a hospital or other emergency situation, you have a lot of control over how you let yourself be effected by chaos.
Take proactive steps to keep your corner of the world a calm place, like:
- Wear headphones when you need to focus.
- Avoid encouraging interruptions. (If someone comes up to ask them a question, don’t hesitate to ask if they can wait a moment while you finish something up.)
- Look for quiet places to work when you need the quiet.
- Set a schedule for when you’ll check email.
- Mute your phone notifications.
- Don’t answer every time your phone rings.
I’ve found when talking to others, that the main thing that makes their office chaotic is not the nature of their industry or even their coworkers – it is themselves, saying yes to more than they can handle.
Say yes to the things you feel emphatic about. Otherwise, if it’s not your job and not a priority for you, do not feel obligated to say yes.
Be aware of emotional labor.
If you’re a woman in a workplace, you probably don’t realize it but you are responsible for a hefty load of emotional labor. Whether it’s taking notes in a meeting, wiping up the break room counter or remembering to bring someone a birthday card, you’re doing things that are expected of you – but would be lauded if a man did the same thing.
Be aware of these traps. If you care passionately about planning parties, proceed – do what makes you happy. But don’t let the societal expectations trap you into creating more work and trouble for yourself, when you’d feel better and get more done if you focused on your actual job.
Women in workplaces will be more likely to take on the chaos of the room, because they feel emotionally responsible for what’s going on. That is me to a T. It’s hard to avoid, but it will leave you with more time as a result.