NoiseI’ve recently found myself in a situation that many fast-growing companies experience: an overcrowded work-space.

What was once the perfect-sized space quickly became too little, too late.

And for companies that don’t have the available capital to adjust to this change, it creates a unique challenge for those working there where distraction and congestion become a daily fact of life.

Am I talking about my own company’s corporate office? No not at all; our office is huge. I’m talking about my home office here in San Diego.

You see, before my son was born, my wife went to work and was gone most of the day. I had our wonderful two-bedroom all to myself for at least eight hours. It was great. It was quiet. And it was productive.

Things have definitely changed. Bailey is now three weeks old and we’re just starting to figure out how to adjust to the many changes involved in starting a family. For the first week, my mother stayed with us in the “office,” and the last two weeks it’s been my mother-in-law.

It takes a village to raise a child. I get that. I love seeing my wife so much. I love my baby. And I am grateful for the help and experience my mother and mother-in-law have provided.

But I am not happy about three new people in what was once my office space. Adjusting has not be easy, but below are some of the things I’ve done that have helped me. These things can help you deal with an overcrowded office, too.


Find a Space Where You Can Concentrate

MRI Software HQ is a pretty vast office. It was a huge building that housed 95% of our workforce (most Account Executives like me work from home). But there were times where I simply didn’t want to be bothered by anyone while I prepped for a demo or had a project coming up. I had everything I needed at my desk, except peace and quiet.

I needed a place where I could concentrate. I know this isn’t always the case, but I was able to simply go to a different area of the office or take over an available conference room.

I wasn’t disappearing or going into hiding. If it was important, an email or call could still reach me. But I wanted to eliminate the physical distractions that were happening around me.

Since Grandma has been in the second bedroom, a.k.a. “the office,” I’ve had to find other arrangements for those early-morning, 6 a.m. (9 a.m. EST) conference calls. Since I don’t want to wake her up, or my wife or the baby, I’ve come to find a new appreciation for Starbucks and my living room table.

This is not rocket science. I am merely adapting to the situation and finding out what works best. For example, the dinner table is much better for me then the couch or rocking chair. I’m more comfortable and more focused. Starbucks is better for me then the bookstore or local bagel shop — better coffee and quieter people.

For you, one conference room may be better than others. A bookstore might be more convenient than a coffee shop. Find a place, at your office or not, that works for you.


Figure Out What Your Distractors Are

When I’m in the home office, I don’t usually have a problem when someone needs to come in and get something. We’re also in the process of moving, so boxes are going in and out of the room.

Doesn’t bother me for some reason. Kid in the other room? Doesn’t bother me. Dishwasher running? Doesn’t bother me.

But laundry being done? Drives me crazy!

Figure out what it is in the office that really distracts you, and you’ll be able to avoid these things or minimize their impact. (Click here to tweet this thought.)


Set Boundaries

When I figured out the laundry machine drives me crazy while I’m trying to work, I asked my wife to give me ample warning that it was going to be a big laundry day.

Or if I had a demonstration that needed a good amount of quiet time, I’d let her know so that she wouldn’t accidentally come in to talk to me, not realizing that I was in the middle of a phone conversation and everyone could hear about our lack of baby wipes.

At work, set boundaries by asking those around you to be respectful and considerate to you and everyone around them. As long as you do the same, there shouldn’t be any problem with this.

I understand some things can’t always be avoided. If you have someone next to you who laughs really loud, it’s hard to say, “Hey, can you lower your laugh volume?” But for situations like that, see the first tip: If the situation can’t move, move from the situation.


Be Ready With Back Up Options

Things happen. Your first choice of Starbucks, the corner conference room or your favorite chair may not be available.

In addition to having alternative work areas, have multiple options in case something isn’t working out.

Situations can change, especially if new employees are coming in before a move is possible for you.

In summary, remember that it’s most important for you to be productive in your work environment. Things can happen that make that all but impossible. It’s your job to recognize that and make the changes you can to fix it.

Good luck!

How have you found ways to cope with environmental distractions while working?

This post originally appeared on the Sales Pro Blog.

Image: Flickr