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This week, my office moved to an open floor plan. We’ve known about it for awhile and I’ve had mixed feelings (more on the negative side than the positive, I have to admit). I enjoy my privacy at work and having my own space. We have lockers with space for a little bit of our stuff and we packed up our boxes on Friday. We moved to a different floor (temporarily until we move back to our permanent floor in December) on Monday and coming in that morning was more than a little stressful. Once I got settled, though, and spent yesterday and today figuring out where I want to sit and how I want to operate, I’m starting to think it’s not so bad.

The office is so much more open and with all of that junk away from the windows, so much lighter. We have a big beautiful new kitchen with better coffee and vending machines, refrigerators, and seating. Our old kitchen was extremely small with no space to sit, so this is a major plus. We have big, new monitors and standing desks. There’s a button on the desk that raises and lowers it and if my legs get stiff, I can stand and work for awhile. We also have “focus rooms”–one person rooms that you can work in if you need quiet and privacy for awhile.

The only drawback is that I have to unpack my stuff every morning and pack it all up at the end of the day. And I have to carry all of that stuff with me, unless I want to put it in my locker. I do have things in my locker, but it’s more of a pain than a convenience to go to it every day. Once everything settles down (probably after this first week), I think I’ll get into the groove of things.

So far, I give the open floor plan a B, with potential! What about you, readers? Have any of you worked in or do any of you work in an open floor plan office? What do you think?

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The bulk of the work I do for my job is on the computer–I work on article proofs, edit Word documents, and correspond with authors, editors, typesetters, and others via email. Sure, I have face-to-face meetings (mostly departmental) and some conference calls, but most of the time I’m wired in to my work laptop and our database. I try to remember to look up every so often and focus on something far away so I can exercise my eyes and get up to talk a short walk (even if it’s around the office) every hour or two, but there is one thing that I do that gets me through my day: listen to music.

I have tried it all: Pandora, Spotify, podcasts, the radio, everything. And I’ve enjoyed it all, so I try to switch it up every day based on the work I’m doing: oh, today I’m doing a lot of copying and pasting, so I can listen to a podcast or any kind of music I want. And another day, maybe I’m working on a slew of author proofs that requires concentration–this calls for classical music. I always have my headphones in and something playing to keep me focused. I know some coworkers who never listen to music at work because they find it distracting, and I know others who listen to books all day. I wish I could listen to an audiobook all day, but I’ve tried that before and I find that I get distracted very easily.

I listen to music to maintain my concentration at work but it also keeps my morale up. Now, you all know I’ve written about how much I love the company I work for so you know that I don’t struggle with low morale at work, but being able to listen to whatever I want keeps me happy throughout the day. If I feel myself getting bored or distracted, I take a minute to find something new to listen to. Music is something I enjoy very much and to be able to listen to it at work is a wonderful thing.

What keeps you going throughout your day?

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First, I made it through my 30 days of probation. This means any danger I may have had of not performing at my night job to expectations and being sent back to part-time is over. My conversion to full-time employee now truly begins.

 

A few months ago, I removed the productivity software that I installed on my PC. I realized that the problem wasn’t things reaching out to distract me, but it was my own inability to concentrate and fully focus on a task. When I find myself easily distracted it means I’m getting close to feeling burnout. When I take a break or a day off for myself, the need to be distracted goes away. Interestingly enough, while I was listening to our most recent Epic Career Tale (another friend of mine), our guest said he never uses productivity software– getting through work quicker means having more time to do what you enjoy. Hearing his words wasn’t anything new, but it was the reaffirmation I needed to hear at the right time.

As my time winds down with Epic Careering and my full-time work continues at night, the struggle not to become burned out is stronger than ever. However, I realized that if I focus on work and push through the siren-call of distraction, that having a little free time, and a sense of accomplishment is its own reward. Sure the distractions will always hover in the background, especially as stress piles on, but having systems and/or expectations in place are a great combatant.

 

What are some of the methods you use to combat distraction?

Monday by Helen Cook of Flickr

Monday by Helen Cook of Flickr

Every so often, my company does something for its employees to give us a bit of a break in our hectic schedules. Today was ice cream day; a local ice cream shop brings a cart by and we all get free ice cream and time to hang out and enjoy it. As I was waiting in line to get my delectable cup of salted chocolate ice cream, I stood talking to my coworker and friend. We talked a little bit about work, but we quickly moved on to talking about what’s going on in both of our lives. I felt (and still feel, hours later) calm and capable after that mid-day break.

I’m sure I’ve said this before in some way, but I really appreciate this company. They go out of their way to organize events like ice cream day which may seem small to some people, but it is a nice thing for employees. The company doesn’t have to go and spend money on ice cream or a party (2 a year in fact–a Christmas party and a Spring picnic), but they do. Sometimes, those seemingly small gestures go a long way, in my estimation, to creating a comfortable work environment. I forgot all about ice cream day today until the little reminder popped up in my Outlook. I forced myself to look away from article proofs, stretch my arms and legs, and get up and go downstairs to stand around, eat, and talk.

My friend and I had a lovely afternoon conversation and I got to enjoy some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had (honestly). I’ll take that over an hour of answering email correspondence any day :).

Do any of your employers or schools go out of their way to do things for their employees/students?

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