I think I have mentioned it before that for me it is not that easy to get into that state that we like to call “the zone” and the ambient noise in a four-person office isn’t helping. Especially with chronic carrot-eaters, mumblers, sigh-ers, table-drummers, burpers and loud-music-with-crappy-in-ear-headphone-listeners as office mates. ((I’m not really blaming them. I tap my foot, I type pretty hard, I use the scroll wheel on my mouse and I tend to hum along to the music I listen to. I am sure they’re just as annoyed by me as I am with them when it comes to office noises and that’s understandable and okay.))
All the loud dubstep doesn’t help to cover up the carrot-eating noise. Maybe some carrots need to be delivered Mr. Smith-style.
— Dominik Schwind (@dominik) April 29, 2011
So first I turned to music. Randomly playing my iTunes library was a complete disaster. Switching between bubblegum pop, heavy metal, elektro and 80s synth-stuff makes for an interesting listening experience, but does not help with concentrating on work. Quite the opposite, actually. Same, of course, with my last.fm mix station. For a while the dubstep-station on last.fm worked, but not really, either.
I now listen to rain and ocean sounds. NOT HELPING.
— Dominik Schwind (@dominik) Mai 4, 2011
Now I have a white noise software running that gives me ocean and rain sounds. That’s nice. It does not help. For one, it fuels my Wanderlust, which is acting up like mad lately anyway. Also, if I turn it loud enough to drown out the noises, I’ll go deaf. ((And believe me, I did consider that as an alternative for a moment.)) And especially the rain part makes me need to pee a lot.
Anyway, all of this complaining is not really the point I wanted to make. The sounds to cover up quite a bit of noise, they do fade into the background and I can concentrate a bit. At least until the next carrot.
The really interesting thing happens when I switch off the software though. My brain got so used to everything being muted down by rain and wave sounds, that when those are missing, everything else sound very very clear. I was surprised how hyper-aware of even small sounds you get after switching off a white noise generator. My steps even on the carpet, the sounds of the water when washing my hands, the droning of the aircon in the washroom, cars going by, the “I need lunch” sounds in my stomach, the phone ringing three doors down the hall, the breeze around the building’s edges. Everything gets REALLY intense.
Is that how taking drugs is like?