When working alone at home, in an office, or even in a coffee shop, sometimes you need a little white noise (that you can control the volume of) to help you concentrate.
Researchers Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Amar Cheema write in their article “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition” that “a moderate . . . level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks.” I know from experience that while I can’t edit with lyrics on, I also have a hard time focusing if the office is dead quiet. The in-between—the space for creative productivity—is ambient sound or white noise.
Here are some of our favorite sources to help you concentrate:
- Noisli: This site, and the accompanying app, allows you to combine various sounds at different volumes. To work, I use a combination of rain, storm, leaves, and a tiny bit of coffee shop. To sleep, because I use this app nearly every night as well, I use rain, wind, leaves, and river.
- Listen to Wikipedia: Experience Wikipedia with your ears! For every user added or piece of content edited, you hear a tone. The more users who sign up at once, the bigger the musical swell. The bigger the content edit, the deeper the tone. It’s fascinating and soothing.
- Hipstersound: Here you hear a variety of coffee shop noises to keep the sound of silence at bay. One awesome option with this site is that you can listen to a Parisian cafe. Working to French mumblings is somehow comforting and energizing.
If you prefer actual music, but lyrics break your concentration, try these playlists on Spotify:
- Deep Focus
- Music for Concentration
- Yo Yo Ma’s Bach Cello Suites
- Eric Whitacre’s album Light & Gold (this one has lyrics, but choral music works for me because it is harder for my brain to track)
Hopefully these options give you a bit of relaxation and focus during your work!