Besides having a bangin' salary, becoming besties with your coworkers is always an ideal situation. It makes the day go by faster and you can always have a group of friends to go to happy hour with. But while those distractions can always make up for those long, grueling work days, there are times when you need to just tell your coworkers to STFU — in a nice way, of course.
When your coworkers become your friends, it really opens a whole other world. You tend to enjoy going to work more and your lunches aren't lonely. Sometimes though, the one thing that makes your days that much better, can actually be a little bit more distracting than you'd like; it can be hard knowing when to switch from friends back to coworkers. You met everyone in the first place is because you all work at the same job, so every now and then, everyone needs to press pause on the friendship button to focus and get work done. If you tend to have a hard time telling your friends that you need to finish work, here are a few tips that may help create heathy work boundaries while still being friends with your coworkers.
1. Set Boundaries
It might be best to let your friends know that you need to really focus while you're at work. According to psychologist Dr. Nicole Martinez, who spoke to me over email, "The best thing you can do for your work, and your friendships is to set up boundaries between work and friendship from the start. Let them know before you clock in, during your lunch hour, or after work, and on the weekends, you, would love to have a great time with them. However, during work hours, you need to be more serious and focus on the tasks that need to be done. You care about your job, and you care that you are taken seriously."
2. Remove Yourself From The Situation
It's easy to get FOMO when you know your friends are talking about topics that you're interested in. Instead of trying to ignore it, work from another location in the building. Some offices have common areas where you can change up your scenery. Explain to your pals that you're going to work elsewhere to complete as much work as possible, so they know what your intentions are. But if you happen to work in an office where it doesn't have any other place for you to work, create visual boundaries at your desk to build the illusion of a wall from the outside world. According to U.S. Money, Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer and author of Time Management from the Inside Out, said, "You need to create a visual cocoon for yourself if you can.”
Use large plants or lamps to set boundaries from other coworkers, especially if you work in an open work environment. It can help shield chatty coworkers from making an effort to talk with you and let you focus on your work that much more.
3. Go To Lunch With Them
While this might sound counterintuitive, going to lunch with your coworkers/friends can allow you to devote time catching up with them, so you don't have to do it during work hours. Plus, it can also increase productivity for you and your coworkers. According to U.S. News and World Report, Kevin Kniffin, visiting assistant professor of organizational behavior and leadership in the Charles H, found that going to lunch with your work buddies can actually increase your work performance and help share different perspectives.
4. Listen To Music With Your Headphones... Or Pretend To
When you need to focus on your work, use headphones to nonverbally indicate that you're busy working. People are less likely to distract you when you have earplugs in your ears. They can assume that you're listening to music and won't be able to hear them speak. According to INC., be obviously unavailable by wearing headphones, especially in an open work environment. Because those type of networking work spaces don't have typical cubicles to keep distractions at bay, it's best to wear giant headphones to express that you're focused on your work and cannot talk at the moment.
5. Don't Go On Social Media
It's easy to want to talk with your coworkers when you found something juicy online. Whether it was a latest tweet from a celebrity (looking at you, Kayne) or a cute puppy video, eliminate that whole process by blocking social media accounts, and solely focusing on your work. According to Business News Daily, CareerBuilder conducted a study that stated that more than half of the employers surveyed said that employees using their cell phones was the biggest distraction at work, while the Internet came in at a close second at 44 percent. Leave your cell phone in your bag and only leave one tab to focus on one task at a time.
6. Don't Be Afraid To Be Honest
If your friends are trying to chat with you about something that's not important, be honest and tell them you can't talk. A lot of the time, coworkers don't even realize that they are being distracting and may understand when you politely tell them that you need to focus. According to TIME, Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach and etiquetteexpert.com, said to make it clear to your work buddies that you're not having this conversation because you need to focus for the benefit of the company and not because you don't want to chat. You can let them know in a humorous way by making a joke about it or telling them as a friendly reminder if they do it again without realizing it.
7. Change Your Body Language
A lot of the time, people may get the hint that you're busy due to how you position yourself at your desk. Your body language is a great way to verbalize your intentions without actually saying a word. Health psychologist, Dr. Kim Chronister explained to me over email, "Display closed body language when you're busy (lean into your computer, arms crossed, torso facing away from friends)." The more closed your body language is, the less likely your coworkers with engage with you.
Being besties with your coworkers is always awesome because you work with them five days a week and it's basically like a fiesta every single day. But while those moments of chatting are always fun, there are times when you need to buckle down and simply get stuff done. After reading a few of the tips above, hopefully they will provide you alternatives to getting work done without losing any friendships. Either way, if you're honest with them that you need to get work done and they are your good friends, they will understand.
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