How to Concentrate While There Are Background Noises

Three Methods:Coping with a Noisy EnvironmentAdapting Your EnvironmentFueling Your Body for Concentration

Your neighbor loves heavy metal and you have an exam tomorrow. We’ve all faced a noisy working environment and found it difficult to concentrate. There is a clear correlation between background noise and stress. This tutorial will offer you different methods to fight the noise and reclaim your tranquility and concentration.

Method 1
Coping with a Noisy Environment

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    Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Earplugs are great to cancel outside noises and cheap to buy.[1] Noise-cancelling headphones are more expensive, but may be useful as a substitute or in addition to your earplugs.
    • If you are in an office, social or studying environment, you may want to explain why you are using earplugs or headphones. Assure people that they can still talk to you and encourage them to tap you on the shoulder, step next to you, or otherwise get your attention. Of course, make sure that your boss has agreed to this arrangement beforehand.
    • There are different types of earplugs, headphone, and noise-cancelling devices. Experiment on what feel good to you; everyone has a different preference.
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    Organize your work differently. Identify when the noise is the loudest and reserve the easiest tasks for that moment. If you are at work, see if you can move to the library, a different cubicle or a conference room if you require greater concentration.
    • It might not always be possible to move from your desk. If there is really nothing you can do about the noise, acceptance and adaptation is sometimes the best solution.
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    Listen to music. If you are able to think, concentrate, and study when listening to music, this technique can be an excellent way to cancel background noises. Lyrics-free music, such as classical, trance, or ambient music, is often the best choice for concentration. [2]
    • Think about the volume. If the music is too loud, you won’t be able to concentrate and you might bother your colleagues.
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    • As an alternative, use white noise. White noise is a static sound used to block background noise. It is commonly used with babies. If white noise doesn't suit you, try pink noise, grey noise, or brown noise. You can easily find these on the internet or download an application for your phone.
    • Put on headphones, but do not listen to anything. For some individuals, simply putting on headphones muffles sound enough to concentrate without any enhancement.
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    Take breaks from the noise and relax. Background noises can be extremely stressful and detrimental to your health. A good way to regain your concentration is to take a short break and go for a walk or to the toilets. You can also try different techniques to calm yourself[3]:
    • Sit comfortably, breathe deeply and slowly. Once your body get used to this, close your eyes and focus on something relaxing. Do this for at least ten minutes.
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    • You can also try to relax the muscles of your body. Sit comfortably and stretch the muscles of your face. Gently rotate your head and move your shoulders. Stretch your arms and your legs and rotate your wrists and hands.[4]
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Method 2
Adapting Your Environment

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    Address the problem. If you cannot get away from a noise, such as a radio playing at work, consider raising the matter politely with everyone involved. It is important that everyone in a workplace or study environment feels comfortable. You may find out that you are not the only one who has an issue!
    • If your colleagues refuse to keep the noise level to a minimum, consider talking with the HR department.
    • If you have to deal with noisy neighbors, always stay calm and polite. Disputes between neighbors can become ugly quickly.
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    Arrange the room to block external sounds. This is a short-term strategy to isolate the room you are working in. Make sure that your windows and your doors are closed. Sounds usually penetrate through holes and gapes. The following ideas can help you reduce the level of background noise:
    • Various barriers can mute distracting sounds. Place a few pillows against the wall to absorb the sound from the other side of the wall when in bed.
    • Buy thermal drapes for your windows. They stop outside sounds as well as the flow of heat.
    • Place a carpet on the floor to block the sound from downstairs.
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    Call a professional. If you work at home and own the place, you can call a professional to soundproof your room. This solution will be expensive but will also give you more freedom and long-term satisfaction.
    • There are several ways to soundproof your house. Soundstop panels can be installed on the walls and rubber mats placed on the floor.
    • Always ask for a quote and call a few professionals to compare. Don’t pick the first one and try to bargain.
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    Move out. Moving out of your rented house or flat might seem like a drastic solution but if you are poisoned by background noises and are working at home, this might be the simplest long-term option. You need to take care of your health and your stress level.
    • Plan your move correctly. Ideally, you should research different area and investigate the noise level. You don’t want to move in another noisy place! If you find a place you like, visit it at different times to be sure that the noise level is acceptable.
    • Identify potential problems. Do not move next to a football stadium or a nightclub. Avoid bars and places where there are high concentrations of students.

Method 3
Fueling Your Body for Concentration

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    Make sure you're not hungry or thirsty. Being hungry or thirsty will decrease your ability to concentrate and will make you more vulnerable to external stimuli like noise. [5]
    • Try to eat healthily. A high blood sugar level is proven to have an impact on your concentration.[6] Junk food is also linked to a decreased attention span.[7]
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    • Drink plenty of water. It's good for your body and research has demonstrated that it boosts your brain's ability to concentrate.[8]
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    Avoid stimulants such as coffee, energy drinks, sugar, and tea. While caffeine can give you an energy boost immediately after consumption, the benefit can be short-lived. The consumption of caffeine can trigger withdrawal effects which include headache and a difficulty to concentrate.[9]
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    Sleep well. Being sleep deprived is bad for your concentration and will make you more sensitive to background noises. [10] If you work in a noisy environment, try to come rested.
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    Relax outside of work. If you're over-stressed by the noise, try to relax at home. You could try aromatherapy or go for a massage. Your global well-being will inevitably have an impact on your ability to resist external noises.
    • Sport is a great way to relax your muscles and body.
    • Meet your friends and try to forget about your working environment. Don't become obsessed with the noise.
    • If you cannot relax anymore, talk to your doctor. Stress and noise can lead to a burnout and it might be time to take a break.[11]

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Categories: Learning Techniques and Student Skills | Job Strategies