How to Create a Quiet Atmosphere at Work and Home

After reading this article on the “7 Ways Noise Affects Your Health” on the Huffington Post, I had a bit of a rejoicing moment.

Aha! I’m not crazy (well, I am, but not as crazy as I originally thought), noise really can affect one’s learning, multitasking abilities and productivity levels.

See, I’ve always had an aversion to noise. Not in the sense that I can’t go in to crowded areas, etc. because in those atmospheres I know it’s to be expected, however when I’m trying to work or do any task that requires a higher level of focus I can hear every little noise, and it drives me nuts.

Anyways, after reading this article it finally clicked. “Great!,” I thought, now I understand, but how to I create the quieter atmosphere I need at home and at work to do my best work both efficiently and joyfully?

Well, these are the tried and true ways to minimize the negative effect noise has on your health and  maximize all the beneficial things a quiet atmosphere can bring:

Get Noise Canceling Headphones

This one may seem like a no brainer since most people revert to headphones as their first solution to noise reduction. However, earbuds just don’t do the trick of blocking out enough noise without having louder music to counteract it. Therefore, not a great solution.

Sure, you might feel a little silly at first wearing noise canceling headphones without playing music, plus they’re kind of large, but thankfully, Dr. Dre made these types of headphones cool with his brand Beats by Dre.

One warning is that these headphones can be a little pricey, but an Internet search can lead to some pretty good bargains. For people that work in a cubicle world or live in an apartment and need to get work done at home from time to time, you will find that this is one of the best work investments you’ll make.


Set Maximum Volume Levels

If you’re someone that’s bothered by noise, you already know that the TV is a big distractor. However, sometimes having the television volume turned up too high is really the biggest problem rather than the fact that the TV is on.

For example, I don’t mind when my husband is watching ESPN and sports on the weekend, it’s not like I’m doing work that requires complete concentration, but if the volume is too loud I can feel my stress level increase just because I have a hard time segmenting noise and thoughts when I’m doing other things.

We came to the agreement that when I’m doing things around the house, or when my husband is studying, the TV will stay in the 20 to 25 volume range. This is a range that allows the person watching TV to hear what’s going on, and the person who is doing other things to not have the TV as a huge distractor.

Sitting down and determining the volume setting on your television/stereo that is a comfortable level for the people in your house will make for a  much happier and less-stressed environment.


Invest in Wall Hangings


Most people have experienced apartment living at least once in their life, but even if you haven’t, we can all relate to that one day where we have a chance to sleep in and lo and behold, it’s the day the lawn maintenance company comes and mows for two hours or a major accident happens and there’s ambulances racing down the street.

Even on ordinary days, traffic and neighbors can be a regular source of noise. One way to block it out is with curtains. The heavier the window coverings, the more noise they’ll absorb and block.

One downside is that this may not be the most effective solution unless you’re okay with your home being as dark as a dungeon, but for blocking noise once the sun goes down, and especially if you’re a light sleeper, heavy curtains can make a huge difference.


Talk to Your Boss

If your workplace is the main source of unrelenting and constant noise in your life, you may just need to talk to your boss. It’s not like you’re calling out a specific noisy coworker, but simply talk about how the noise in the office makes it difficult to focus on work and be productive throughout the day.

Your boss will most likely appreciate you wanting to concentrate on the task at hand and increase your efficiency, so maybe come up with some solutions such as designated “quiet hours” where everyone keeps conversations, printing and phone calls to a minimum or that you can wear your noise canceling headphones (some bosses may have a problem with that, but if you ask first they may allow it). Or maybe moving you to a workspace that’s in a quieter corner of the floor will help.

Just get creative and open up a conversation. If you voice your concerns you’ll be more likely to find a solution and you won’t run the risk of lowering your morale and further increasing your stress by begrudgingly living through the noise.


Get Noise Absorbing Items

Noise absopbers don’t just come in the form of wall padding. Carpets, plants, rubber mats and a variety of other things you can place around your home and office and help with absorbing surrounding noise.

Some other solutions might require a little more work and re-designing, but these ideas from Forbes are worth it. 


What are some of the ways you escape from surrounding noise at work and home?



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Elle Michels

Elle Michels

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Michels is a contributing writer to Womenshealth.com.

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