Breaking The Silence: How To Use Soundscapes To Increase Your Productivity At School And Work

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Breaking the silence could be your key to productivity.

For many workers, the sound of a busy office can be incredibly distracting. But for others, an environment that’s too quiet can be just as unsettling. In either case, this results in many professionals reaching for their headphones.

Dr. Amit Sood from the Mayo Clinic tells the New York Times that melodious sounds can help the release of dopamine, which is associated with reward. In other words, listening to music can actually make your work experience more enjoyable.

That fact isn’t surprising – personal music players have never been more popular among youth and adults. But what types of sounds increase your productivity? Read on to find out!

How does sound affect us?

Sound affects humans in four main ways:

Physiologically: Sound can alter our heart rate, breathing rhythms, hormone secretions and brainwaves.
Psychologically: Hearing different noises can change our mood.
Cognitively: Sound affects our productivity and how much we can accomplish
Behaviourally: The ability to hear is a primary warning sense for us and has an important effect on what we do and where we do it.

Sounds can really change how we feel about an environment. When we need to focus in on a task, using sounds can be a great way to drown out other distractions. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that a moderate level of ambient noise – or background noise – boosted productivity for many people. This could explain why coffee shops are such a popular spot for students and professionals to get their work done.

Ambient noise can also enhance creativity. The same study also showed how about 70 decibels of noise (the equivalent to a passenger car traveling on a highway) can enhance creative task performance.

Here are some tips to remember when searching for your ideal soundscape:

  • Slow-paced sounds tend to relax
  • Fast-paced sounds tend to stimulate
  • Stochastic sounds, such as rainfall or coffee shop noise, are useful for working
  • To avoid being distracted, you may want to choose soundscapes which include conversations, telephones or alarms.

Where can I find some good soundscapes?

The internet is full of soundscapes – here are a few you can experiment with:

  • ASoftMurmur.com – this site lets you take your pick of ambient noises from a thunderstorm and fire, to white noise and crickets. You can make your perfect mix to cancel out any distracting noises.
  • Coffitivity.com – this resource gives you the choice of sounds from a coffee shop in the morning, at lunchtime or on campus to suit whatever you’re feeling. This page also comes as an app for your smartphone so you can bring coffee shop sounds with you wherever you go!
  • Noisli.com – this site lets you mix different sounds to create a soundscape just for you. You can also pick noises based on whether you want to relax or be productive.
  • RainyCafe.com – combines the noises from a coffee shop with a rainstorm.
  • SimplyNoise.com – if you’re simply looking to drown out a noisy environment, this site allows you to pick from 3 different colours of noise: pink, white, and brown. It is similar to the sound you hear when your TV loses its signal, but after a few minutes of listening, you’ll forget the sound is there.

Do you use soundscapes to focus at school or work? What types of sounds work best for you? Tell us in the comments!

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