RE: Quiet workplace?

Subject: RE: Quiet workplace?
From: Mailing List <mlist -at- ca -dot- rainbow -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 11:17:12 -0500

Geoff Hart [mailto:ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca]
> <<I'm finding it increasingly
> difficult to concentrate on my work, and I'm feeling stressed by the
> mechanical noises and casual conversations going on around me.>>
> This sounds like something you need to discuss with your manager. If
> you can make a strong case for how stressful the environment is, they
> may be able to find you another office. I know that I can't work in
> very noisy environments--can't concentrate nearly as well as when I
> have a relatively quiet workplace.

My experience is that mechanical noise is a constant pressure
that has real physical effects. I know that I relax drastically
(shoulders drop a couple of inches, chest and forearms unclench,
etc.) when noise stops. But, I can work with it.

Conversations, on the other hand, can be really distracting.
Sometimes I need to hear them, since my radar (I guess that
should be sonar... :-) is attuned to stuff that I need to know
about in the office, but the filtering does take energy and
attention, and if there's enough distracting conversation
going on, there's not enough attention left for the work at

Perhaps that's more of a problem for me than for some others,
because I tend to sub-vocalize what I'm reading -- which
includes what I'm writing.

> If that doesn't work (it doesn't always), consider investing in some
> "noise-cancelling headphones". You can find these in various techy
> magazines or through a Google search. Haven't tried any of them, but
> have heard (warning: anecdotal evidence) that they work surprisingly
> well. I believe Sennheiser is one company that makes them. Low-tech
> solutions such as earplugs can also work well.

I bought some noise-cancelling headphones to use on my commuting
walks. I'm forced to walk beside busy roads, so it's either listen
to that (or my own off-key humming), or listen to a radio that's
blasting way to loud, to be intelligible over the traffic noise.

They work, BUT... get good ones. I got some that cost about
$120 CDN. They are somewhat effective, but the overall sound
pressure is still too high. I'll need to spend several times
that much to get truly effective noise cancellation. I'm
leery, because that's approaching a real dent in my wallet,
especially if they're still unsatisfactory. I too would
like some recommendations from people who have had success.

Oh, and the ones I have are battery powered, of course.

I've used them in the office to much better effect.
In the office, I usually just switch on the noise
cancellation *without* any music or radio input ( I find
those generally as distracting as nearby conversations).
I go through a battery (size AA) every other day.

Another reason to invest in GOOD headphones is longterm
comfort. Some of the best are made for pilots and air
traffic controllers, who must wear them for hours at
a stretch.

Ear-plugs, worn for hours every day, can give you
ear-canal problems (traps moisture and dirt, among
other things... you don't want mildewed ears).
But, for an hour or three, here and there, they can
be just the ticket.


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