As businesses move toward adopting more open-concept offices, noise barriers are quite literally broken down. While open space is great for collaboration, constant conversation can be distracting when employees need to buckle down and focus on getting their work done.
As a result, many have donned a pair of headphones and decided to fight noise with… noise.
Websites and apps like 8tracks and Spotify have a plethora of playlists aimed at helping listeners focus. My personal favourite is Soundrown, where you can surround yourself with continuous rainfall, birds chirping and white noise, among others. From classical music to instrumentals to the soothing sounds of nature, these lyric-less tracks effectively block out background noise without becoming diversions themselves.
But before turning up the volume, be aware that high levels of noise can actually hurt creativity.1 After all, background music is supposed to be subtle and complementary. It shouldn’t draw away your attention.
So the next time you need a productivity boost, plug in your headphones, pick a playlist, and get ready to work.
Mehta R, Zhu RJ and Cheema A. Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition. Journal of Consumer Research. 2012;39:784-99.