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04 Feb

Working in a quiet meadow at the office

Datum: 2016-02-04 15:32

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:

  • Sim​ply​noise​.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). Sim​ply​noise​.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 (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!