Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to drown out noises and concentrate

One of my previous posts noted that I like to use active noise cancellation headphones to help concentrate on writing tasks.What I didn't really emphasize is that even with the noise cancellation technology turned on, the headphones still don't always keep all of the various sounds out, especially if people are talking nearby.

This is what happens when I start listening to the
music playing through my headphones... it's not pretty

With some music playing through the headphones, it's much easier to drown everything out, but then I'm stuck listening to the music, which itself gets distracting since I start listening to the lyrics (I was never one of those people who could fall asleep with the TV on).  I then start tapping my fingers/feet to the music, and pretty soon I'm completely distracted.

Hanson actually created
what is widely considered
to be the first 'White Noise.'
One way around this is to play white noise through the headphones along with the noise cancelling turned on.  White noise can also be used to help fall asleep, meditate, etc.  Here's a very useful YouTube 'video' of 12 hours of just white noise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KaOrSuWZeM

However, listening to YouTube requires internet, and sometimes you won't have access to it (like when you're on a plane with your laptop).  If you're somewhat technologically savvy, you can use a special program (or if you're not, use this website) to capture that white noise YouTube video as a (very, very long) .mp3 sound file. Then you can cut it down to ~5 minutes using any sound editing program, and set it to loop on your desktop, laptop, or portable music player.  Voila!  A small, non-internet-based white noise audio file on an infinite loop.

Enjoy!  (And remember to turn off the noise cancelling option when you're done with it!  On a related note, the dollar store is great for finding cheap packs of AAA batteries that you will no doubt burn through fairly quickly with the headphones.)

Picture Credits: Headphones Hanson Jay_and_Silent_Bob

1 comment:

  1. This is a brilliant post. Thank you for posting this. I have such a hard time working in cubicles because I get distracted by other people talking and have spent almost my entire PhD working from home as a result.