Protecting My Environment

I don't deal well with 'ordered' noise. I find it distracting - it can make it nearly impossible to concentrate. Especially if that noise involves voices. A crowd is ok; the voices tend to become a meaningless drone but if the voice is clear and intelligible it becomes difficult to deal with. I can blank out a lot of sounds, but this is usually contingent on my having something else I can passively concentrate on, or something that doesn't require intense focus. Even those background noises that I can deal with can become a frustration if I'm wrestling with a problem. The more effort it is to deal with the problem at hand the less able I am to cope with noise.

It may seem like I'm suffering a universal human problem, and you'll have to take my word that I have far more difficulty with this than anyone else I know.

I can't read with a conversation or a song tugging at my ears in particular — it is extremely hard for me to isolate the internal voice from the external voice. The right music in my headphones (instrumental) can overcome some of the problems with more generic noise and is my go-to solution in the open plan office at work but I don't always have control over my environment when I want to get stuff done. The weirdest thing is that you could pretty much fire up a brass band in the bedroom and I'd still be able to get to sleep just fine. It's going to sound contradictory that I also have a habit of putting something on Netflix when I sit down to write. It is contradictory, and almost always distraction to the point of complete failure. I can be my own worst enemy. We all have methods to procrastinate and mine recently is TED talks. I love TED.

I share a 'workspace' at home; that is we set up the spare bedroom as a study to house our desks and computers. While I am happiest in silence, my partner tends to find it uncomfortable. Sometimes, when the music is particularly abrasive to my tastes I can enforce the adoption of headphones but it's unreasonable for me to do so all the time. Even still sometimes just being around someone is naturally disruptive. Sometimes just the angry, constant hum of the PC idling on the other side of the room alone can be frustrating. If only someone would design one that didn't sound like leather on sandpaper.

I will convince him to make the switch eventually.

There are plenty of computer-based activities that I do that generate more than a little noise. I play enough incessantly pew-pewing computer games for example and on the whole if what I'm doing is noisy my mind is a lot more tolerant of the other sounds that have been superseded by whatever experience I'm focusing on. The loudest (or most immediate) voice sometimes wins.

I'm no hard-done-to victim here. Far from it.

So I have benefitted from being able to pick up my computer and go somewhere else. This generally just means room hopping, but I haven't engineered the rest of our home as I have my own desk. For one thing it's our home. It's not Dave's personal exercise in zen space optimisation. So while I do work actively to stem the potential tide of stuff it is a matter of discourse and compromise. It does however seem to me that I need an alternative location to write where I can — when I need some quiet — control the environment in a way that is comfortable, productive and not too distracting. By 'not too distracting' I mean 'where my regular temptations are inaccessible'.

The room with the giant, super-comfortable sofa and TV with Netflix on pipe is probably not the location I am looking for. At present the kitchen table is both spacious and under-utilised. Turning the kitchen into a peaceful, back-up office may be my next home improvement project.