Entrepreneurs who are just starting out don't always need a dedicated office space. With the rise of remote work and coworking spaces, business owners and their employees have more options than ever before. But these environments come with a trade-off: When you're working at home, in a shared office or at the local coffee shop, it can be hard to drown out the distractions around you.
These six entrepreneurs share their tried-and-true tactics for staying focused no matter where they are -- or how loud the volume.
Tune out distractions.
It can be tempting to tune in to all the conversations around you, but it's also detrimental to your productivity. That's why Jacqueline Marrano, owner and founder of Marrano Solutions, LLC., finds something else to listen to -- like music or inspiring words.
"When I first started out, I worked in a coworking space. Every time a conversation started, I would listen to it instead of doing my work," she says. "Find a way to tune out the distractions. This requires you to know yourself. I plug in headphones and listen to music or a motivational speaker."
Practice meditation in a noisy environment.
Practice makes perfect for Dan Suski, founder of YachtList, who meditates in increasingly distracting settings to hone his focus. The more you meditate amidst distractions, the better prepared you'll be when you sit down to work in a noisy environment.
"Master meditation at home in a quiet room (apps like Headspace helped me), then try to meditate in more distracting environments," he says. "In time, you'll find it's much easier to focus despite the noisy distractions common at coffee shops and coworking spaces."
Pair over-ear headphones with music.
"Working in an open floor plan environment, especially near the sales team, can make it difficult to focus," says Michael Averto, co-founder and CEO of ChannelApe. Sometimes expensive headphones won't do the trick on their own -- but pairing them with music engineered to improve focus could provide the boost in brainpower you need.
"I've found using Brain.fm (or any alpha waves music) keeps me on target and focused while drowning out the noise of the office," he says. "Noise-cancelling headphones alone didn't work well for me. Plus, this option is magnitudes cheaper than a good pair."
Move to an area with constant, rather than intermittent, noise.
While it sounds counterintuitive, the answer may be more noise, not less, as long as it is consistent. Roger Lee, CEO of Human Interest, finds that it's easier to focus among the background buzz of many conversations.
"While all environmental noise is disruptive, researchers have found that intermittent speech -- where you occasionally hear a few words or sentences punctuated by pauses -- is the hardest to ignore," he says. "It's easier for me to tune out the noise if I move to a louder area where all of the talking blends together so that no single conversation is distinguishable."
Plan your work accordingly.
Robby Berthume, co-founder and CEO of Bull & Beard, knows that it's easier to get some types of work done in loud environments than it is others. That's why he plans his schedule based on where he is and the level of concentration he needs for the work at hand.
"I plan my schedule proactively so I'm generally working on communication, new business and collaboration when I'm in noisier environments, and I schedule worksessions for more creative or strategic work when I'm in a quieter space," he says. "Even so, I work in the same office as my business partner, hearing conversations and his keyboard. The best strategy is headphones coupled with music."
Hold yourself to strict deadlines.
"When I have a hard deadline, the urgency of the moment converts the loudest noise into the faintest whisper," says Alexander Westgarth, founder and CEO of Westgarth Wines. Deadlines deaden even the loudest of noises because you're too laser focused to notice the distractions around you.
"I have to be in the moment, with no time to waste and no reason to procrastinate, so I can work," he says. "When there is no chance for delay and no way to avoid the inevitable, I must focus on exceeding the expectations of a client. The noise does not bother me."