How can I stay focused in a noisy open office landscape without distancing myself too much from colleagues and co-workers? What's best? Listening to music, booking meeting rooms (we have plenty!) or just try to brute force through it?
Even when I turn off my cell phone, kill Skype, open email through three half hour sessions a day the main source of distraction is the open office environment in which I work. I have 8 more or less noisy colleagues within one to two metres with nothing to cancel the sound of them talking to each other, talking on the phone, eating apples etc. Early in the morning and late in the evening when the office is empty I can manage to focus on something for longer periods of time but during "normal" office hours colleagues constantly talk to me and others. It is impossible to keep 100% focus for more than 1-2 minutes at a time. The peer feedback model in a work place where the culture is to make make sound doesn't seem to be working either.
I remember reading somewhere on the M-T-site that using ear buds and listening to music is not recommended as that means that your distancing yourself from your colleagues. Is this true in all circumstances? What do others that work in open office environments do in order to be able to concentrate? Would it be appropriate to use one of our small rooms that are used for short meetings and phone calls for a few hours a day? I of course don't want to be seen as arrogant or distancing myself from the rest of the organisation but at the same time it seems impossible to do some serious thinking in this environment.