My battles with noise distractions

I get distracted far too easily.

I can be happily working at my office computer, then find myself drifting into conversations that I’m not involved in. No reason for me to do so, yet I get drawn in all the same, losing focus.

If I attempt to read a book, with my wife watching a TV program I have no interest in, I find I have to re-read the same passage over and over again.

I even find it hard to read whilst having a radio on in the background in another room.

When I see people at coffee shops happily typing away at their laptops, I can’t understand how they can do it with the noise distractions all around them.

I have found that I enjoy peaceful silence. Minimising noise distractions is the most effective way I have found to improve my concentration levels and my personal productivity. However, it’s not always possible to find a quiet place to work, either at the office or home. I needed a better solution than heading to the library!

Drown out the distractions!

I first tried listening to white noise, ‘cafe background sounds’ and nature sounds. They all reduced the number of times I was distracted, but it did have a few problems. White Noise is a little harsh and monotonous! Nature sounds only seemed to work in quiet environments, which wasn’t ideal. The cafe background sounds I tried sometimes encouraged me to try and zone into the conversations, even if they were barely audible.

I then tried music. is full of good chill music to relax with, but some music choices are not perfect for concentration. I then tried a number Spotify Playlists with names like ‘Relax and Focus’, ‘Focus the Mind’ and ‘Sound Tracks for Study’ – Some of the tracks were great, others caused me to loose focus also. I’d find myself occasionally listening to the music, especially when the song had lyrics of some sort.


I then discovered Focus@Will and I have not looked back since. I have been a subscriber for over 12 months now, during this time I have noted a very positive impact on my productivity, especially when I am writing.

I was very dubious at first, the science behind it seemed a little ‘out there’, but it did hit on a number of things I had found out myself. I knew lyrics were distracting, but they also advised that some instruments can be just as distracting. You will not find any electric guitar solo’s here!

focus@will is a new neuroscience based music service that helps you focus, reduce distractions and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading. The technology is based on hard science and proven to be extremely effective at extending your attention span.
– via Focus@Will Music for concentration

The free trial was enough to convince me that It did have a positive affect on my concentration levels. There are lots of variations of music styles and the ability to select energy levels works really well for me. When I use Focus@Will and distraction free writing software, I find it so much easier to stay in a ‘flow’ state. It’s one of the reasons I was able to finish writing The little book of Nozbe!

When at my office desk, I use some in-ear headphones to reduce the distractions, I don’t wear them all the time, but at choice moments during the day it’s a perfect way to focus my mind at the task at hand.

One thing that did surprise me, one of my favourite track selections is something I never imagined would work. ‘ADHD Type 1’ is a playlist of what I would describe as Thrash Electronic noise…. yet I find it superb at elevating my concentration levels in very noisy environments. When colleagues ask what I’m listening too, I turn down the volume and disconnect my headphones. So many just stare at me and ask ‘How can that improve things?’. They find it crazily distracting!

Recently Focus@Will became available on SONOS speakers, which is great for use at home when I do not need to wear headphones. Some of the playlists are very easy to listen to and perfect for background listening. But for the full effect you should listen with headphones.

One downside, currently the only option is to stream the tracks using mobile apps or web, not always ideal on my commute. Thankfully offline playback is being developed on the mobile apps. In these instances I go back to Spotify where I have some offline playlists ready.

If you suffer from being distracted, you may find that Focus@Will may help you too. The free trial is for 30 days, giving you lots of time to evaluate if it improves your productivity as it has mine.

Resources to help your battle with noise distractions

Chill FM
White Noise and Co
Spotify – Relax and Focus
Spotify – Focus the Mind
Spotify – Soundtrack for Study