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04 Feb

Working in a quiet meadow at the office


Date: 2016-02-04 15:32 Comments: 0 st

The environment I am in when working on my computer is not always as quiet as I would want it to be. To my left, other passengers on the train are speaking about how to deal with the most recent re-organization in their company. In the hotell-lobby the speakers are blaring out ”Hit the road, Jack!”. At the airport, the travelers Larsson and Dahl are requested to immediately go to gate 14 through the loud-speakers. And despite of all these sounds and disruptions, I need to remain undisturbed to be able to write with concentration and without frustration.

Perhaps you work in an open plan office? Or perhaps the coffee-machine is right outside your room? Or you might share an office with someone whose job-description includes calling lots of phone calls?

If so, you will most likely be familiar with the need to have peace and quiet in spite of distracting background-noises.

When you cannot influence your surroundings
Sometimes we cannot do anything about the distracting sounds and noises. We might not be able to get a private office with a door you can close if we have been designated to sit in an open plan office. You are of course allowed to conduct a conversation while riding the train, so we cannot ask someone to keep quiet just for our sake. We are left with the option of closing out all the disturbing sounds. But with what? And how?

Simple. Just put on your headphones and listen to something else. If you are lucky, you will be able to concentrate even while listening to music, but if you are like me, even this will distract you. So, I usually let something else flow through my headphones - something as soothing as synthetic noise. 

Four auditory screens
Allow me to share four tools for shielding yourself from disturbing background noises with something other than music:

  • Simplynoise.com - An online service in which you can choose between white noise, pink noise and Brown’s noise (not as in the color brown, but as in the name of the inventor, Mr. Brown). The synthetic noise is used in treating tinnitus and screens off the hum or murmur of voices effectively. As I am writing this tip I am currently  listening to Brown’s noice with oscillating volume, which sounds very much like waves lapping the shore (where I am sitting alone, without any seagulls or other visitors). Simplynoise.com is free of charge and is also available as an app for Android and iPhone.
  • When I gave a lecture in Oslo a couple of weeks ago, one of the participants told me about the app Sound Massage (Android, iPhone), which in its full version contains no less than 56 different sounds. You can for instance listen to the sound of a serene forest, birds singing or waves.
  • Soundrown.com - A web service where you can listen to crickets, rain, trains (but that would be redundant for me at the moment) or a fountain for free. The sounds in Soundrown are not synthetic, but sounds as genuine and real recordings. My only hesitation concerns whether and when I would ever make use of the sound ”noisy children”.
  • Rainy Café - A rather minimalistic service where you turn on or off the sounds of ”Café” and ”Rain”. Sometimes you want to hear the sound of rain, sometimes a café, and sometimes rain in a café.

Do this
If you from time to time need to work undistracted in a noisy environment, try one of the services mentioned above. If you like what you hear - bookmark it or download the app.

The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated from someone or something making too much noise just when you are about to concentrate, the relaxation and the sounds are just a few clicks away.

No more frustration
If you listen to a sound that screens out other noises and sounds when working in a busy environment, it will become easier to focus on the task at hand. You will get what you need to finish done faster and easier, and will not have to experience that inefficient and annoying frustration that you otherwise would feel.

What is your method?
What do you prefer listening to when you really need to concentrate? Music? People talking in the background? White noise? Nothing? Something completely different? Write a comment!

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