White Noise and Productivity

Here at GetShift we love productivity hacking. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as having a productive day and meeting all your goals. It sometimes gets real quiet in our office when we put our heads down and focus, so we figured we could put some white noise on in the background and see how it helped us. We hooked up our kiosk pc to our Amazon Alexa and tried out various white noise sounds for a couple of days.

It sometimes gets real quiet in our office when we put our heads down and focus, so we figured we could put some white noise on in the background and see how it helped us. We hooked up our kiosk pc to our Amazon Alexa and tried out various white noise sounds for a couple of days.

We started off with Coffitivity, with its coffee shop ambiance. Coffitivity is very interesting, although sometimes the effect can be a little jarring. In our office it felt very out of place, and maybe headphones offer a better experience.

Over the period of a week, we tried various other white noise sounds, including a few of the Spotify playlists and Noisli. The falling rain was the best received of the lot.

Research has shown that a moderate level of white noise improves cognitive function people, as described in this oft-cited study. A moderate level of white noise has been demonstrated to improve performance on creative tasks. Abstract thought seems easier when in a moderately noisy environment. However this effect breaks down in very noisy environments where the distractions prove too much for the brain to handle.

The quality of the white noise matters too – music is often not a good choice as it can be too distracting, however not all white noise is equal. A search on Spotify for ‘White Noise’ throws up lots of results not all of which work well in an office setting. Having a non-jarring sound without a lot of repetition seems key. Soothing sounds don’t always seem to work.

The white noise had a definite effect on the office. Having a slight distraction does indeed seem to help you brain focus before, and I personally felt my mind wandering far less during the course of the day.

Our experience with white noise was so good that we’re planning to integrate a white noise generator into some of our products, starting with the GetTime productivity device.

In the meantime, if the sound of silence is disconcerting, try the pitter-patter of raindrops instead.

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