Can You Work in Your Office?


Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

My wife and I recently had our first child, so I have spent a lot of time working outside the office recently. Strangely enough, I can work on my laptop with a screaming baby two feet away, but working in a spacious office with co-workers chatting in the hallway stifles my productivity.

If you find yourself constantly distracted in your office, try a couple of these tips to try and restart your work space.

Take ten minutes and clean up

Nothing is more distracting than piles of useless crap all over the place. Looking around and seeing files, unfinished work, and countless client files can paralyze you from doing anything.

When you come into work tomorrow morning, take ten minutes and clear out everything you do not need in your office.

Flip your office

No matter how small your office is, you can rearrange it. If your desk faces the door, flip it around, and vice-versa. If your desk is next to a vent that blows cold air on your all day, move it. Changing where you work, even within the same office, can help your brain reorganize how it works.

Do the opposite with your door

If you usually keep your door closed, try keeping it open. You might hear more background noise, but that might actually help you settle in. If people are constantly walking in, close your door.

Pump up the white noise

If your office mate’s voice drives you bonkers, turn on some white noise. Bring in a fan or turn on a radio at a low-level. If you find that you work better while dancing around to music, buy some cordless headphones and start wearing them (Sam loves his).

Make it your office

If you love comic books, hang a comic on your wall. Put a picture of your spouse or significant other on your desk. Your office is your space—the more comfortable you feel, the more productive you will be.


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  • Joel Anderson

    One more: If seeing your coworker dancing around while wearing wireless headphones is distracting, get some embarassing video footage and then close your blinds.

  • Jennifer Ashmore

    I keep little ear plugs in my office. That way I can block out some of the background noise while keeping my door open so people can ask me questions, etc. Great article – thank you!

  • I use for background white noise. It’s free and easy and you can just adjust your computer speakers to a comfortable level. Sometimes I feel rude closing my door to my coworkers so this allows me to keep the door open while avoiding the distraction of voices coming in from the hallway.

  • Jessica Pienta

    Thanks for the link to, John Corcoran! I already love it!