What helps you concentrate better? Here's what I listen to — R Voice

What helps you concentrate better? Here's what I listen to

Jayashree Rajagopalan
Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin

Curious to know - what do you do/listen to in order to concentrate better? And what do you get distracted by?

I have been told that my habit/way of boosting my concentration is rather peculiar. Here's what I do:

  • I listen to audiobooks - only crime/murder mysteries OR PG Wodehouse
  • I watch TV series - almost always crime/murder/investigation based
  • Tune in to white noise - either rain, forest sounds, or ocean waves

Hearing people talk in audiobooks or TV series helps me focus better - and it makes people around me wonder how, but it just works for me.

What distracts me most while working is MUSIC! I love music and when I listen to it while working, I get distracted because I want to stop working and enjoy the music instead.🤐

Would love to hear what works - and what doesn't work - for you. @Andrea Hayward @Kakoli Majumder @chris leonard @Shaimaa Doma @Raj sundaram @Soumi Paul @Dahlia T @Kristína Krajcikova @Jessi Nelson @Parul Nigam @Aysa MC @Lidia Lins @Roberto Spiezio @Victor Muthama

Oh, and feel free to share recommendations for concentration boosters. 🙂

Best Answers

  • Lidia Lins
    Lidia Lins Member Posts: 44 ✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    I definitely need silence to concentrate...If an environment is too noisy then I use some sound isolating headphones I have, and if that is not enough then I try some instrumental music, so that can solve 50 % of my problem.

    I have a little ritual to concentrate. I go grab a coffee, sit cross-legged on my chair, close my eyes and take a few long breaths, then start what I have to do. When my eyes get tired I look outside to a point which is far away. That helps with resting my eyes.

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin
    Accepted Answer

    OMG @Shruti Turner what you just said made me miss being at work. I did that too - an awful lot! I would just put on headphones - not even realizing that I wasn't listening to anything, but the sound of people's discussions around me was super helpful. I wouldn't listen to what anyone was saying, but it was just the white noise I needed. Incidentally, when the pandemic hit and we just started working from home, my partner found it really tough to focus - so he actually found office white noise sounds - of people murmuring, having discussions, paper shuffling, printers whirring, coffee machines hissing, and keyboards clacking. This helped him immensely - it just made me pine for my office desk. I realize how each of us responds to different settings in order to function well.

    And I know what you mean when you say that listening to music doesn't always work - I feel the same. I start listening to the music rather than focusing on my work. And so audiobooks or something on the telly helps as background noise I can ignore.

  • Lidia Lins
    Lidia Lins Member Posts: 44 ✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    @Jayashree Rajagopalan , I use one list from spotify called productive morning.

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin
    Accepted Answer

    Sounds good - I'll tune in and let you know if it helped me focus - right now I'm watching "Manhunt: Unabomber" and it's helped me focus intensely! 😄

  • Dahlia T
    Dahlia T Member Posts: 68 ✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    @Shruti Turner just nailed it for me:

    I have to say though, there are times where it's just a psychological thing with putting my headphones on. Back when we were allowed into the office, I would put my headphones on and I would work, even if I wasn't listening to anything...it made me feel like I was in my own space and more focused. No idea why because I could still hear everything around me and access all the distractions! But it works so I go with it :)

    For the most part, I wear my headphones constantly, to block out a noisy background as well as white noise. From time to time, I may have some soul music, some jazz, or some gospel music playing. However, most times there is nothing playing. I am the person who cannot work properly in a crowded café or in the main library section, without headphones. I have to be in the stacks or in a corner, far away from people to get stuff done. In general, I find it hard to concentrate if too many people are in the room.

    That being said, when I am not in 'work mode', I often leave the TV or radio on in the background 'to just hear the noise'

    I am purposefully driven to water the soil to grow the seed that is already planted. 

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin
    Accepted Answer

    @Dahlia T - I would thrive in a crowded cafe! THAT would be the perfect white noise - unless, of course, the tables are too close. When I was working on my master's research paper at uni, I'd find the quietest spot in the library and tune in to a novel audiobook just to get my focus right. It's super interesting for me to hear such a range of responses to this question. If we curated playlists from everyone on R Voice, we may have enough to get everyone going for a while! That'll be fun - a playlist for academics curated by other academics and with enough diversity to cater to different types of focus approaches!

  • Victor Muthama
    Victor Muthama Member Posts: 7
    Accepted Answer

    I back you up that for sure to having a crowded background while reading or so 😅 is a match. To my opinion it depends on the biochemical enzymes which supports concentration in such conditions.

  • Shaimaa Doma
    Shaimaa Doma Member Posts: 6 ✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer

    For me, when I'm alone in the office or working from home, having some background music helps make the place not too silent, preventing me from looking for other distractions. Especially when a task is too dull, or when I'd much rather do something more fun, it's a nice incentive to sit still and do something, if it means I'll get to listen to playlists I like. So every time I want to stand up, I have to think again: "Music + work" or "no music+ no work"? 😅

    When struggling more, I might have an episode of some comedy series in a small Picture-in-Picture window. This is more of a fix for motivation, rather than for concentration, which is a bit compromised but better than nothing in that case.

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 170 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 5 Accepted Answer

    @Jayashree Rajagopalan thanks for bringing me into this discussion. Interesting.

    Hmmm...for me it depends on the task at hand. If the task is extremely interesting, no effort no ambience needed for me to get into the "flow" state of focus. The task pulls my focus, my entire self...and I could get the task done it in a fish market.

    (Once read a book over a span of 3 hours in a Taiko matsuri...that is a Japanese drum festival...incredibly loud and there are 30-40 groups with 1000s of drums playing all over.🤣)

    If 100% focus is needed for a task I feel ambivalent about, reducing external stimuli/disturbances/distractions works best for me (quiet place, have ear plugs, no disturbances sign, no music...adequate lighting). After time, when the focus wanes and my body is giving out signals...it is break time (with a 15 min timer). I move the body, look at nice pictures/photos on wall/table, look out the window, consciously deep breath, etc. Then, back to task.

    If i am ambivalent about or hate the task but doing doesn't need my 100% concentration, I just put on some music, a movie, multitask. Just to make it bearable.

    The most difficult is when a task I absolutely hate needs 100% focus. For this, I just power through basically with no distractions. People know better to not come near me during these events. 🤬😠👿

    🤣

    But I plan ahead a nice reward for myself for after getting the damn thing done. The thought of the reward brings back my focus when I start squirming. Eyes on the prize.🤣

    I also take longer breaks. And find a safe place to kick, scream and swear during the break to vent my anger.

    After getting the damn thing done, its party time!!! 🎉🎊

  • Isurika Sevwandi
    Isurika Sevwandi Member Posts: 40 ✭✭✭
    edited May 5 Accepted Answer

    Though I WAS NOT NOMINATED TO ANSWER, FOUND THIS EXTREMELY INTERESTING TO ANSWER.

    Music has so far being a good heeling machine for me; specially classical Sri Lankan music (however I can bear any genre of music and prefer diversity in everything). Yet, in order to focus and multitask silence is the best solution for me because I am easily distracted by people as I notice their simple details too easily. This sometimes helps me but most of the time steal my focus.

    Staring at greenery helps me a lot to pull my self together when I am feeling draining and it helps a lot to re-focus when feeling exhausted by long time concentration on tiresome work including brain power. A little nap always helped me and sometimes stretching my self, going out and spending time in fresh air helps to regain the spirit all the time. I self-distracted my self from TV recently as I am exhausted with pandemic related news which my parents watch all the time (and I am deprived of controlling the remote when my father is around) to update themselves. Cartoons helped me a lot during my schooling and scrolling through Pinterest quotes and creating new Pinterest boards help me to understand the emotional reality and explore my self which I am always passionate about. These little habits (which are mostly personal) always helped me to normalize myself and find the ray of focus all the time.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 185 admin
    edited May 5 Accepted Answer

    Such interesting experiences and suggestions shared by everyone on this thread! I just want to say how much I enjoyed reading your comments @Lidia Lins @Dahlia T @Shruti Turner @Raj sundaram @Isurika Sevwandi 👌💓

    As for me, I think I have a little of what everyone has already mentioned. When I'm doing something that needs me to be analytical or do some deep thinking, then I prefer to have complete silence. On the other hand, if I'm doing something rather mechanical like cleaning up a spreadsheet, then some music always makes the task more enjoyable, without breaking my focus. Something that really helps me focus is blocking my own calendar and allotting a time slot to a specific task. I know I won't allow myself to work on it after that specific time slot and so I make sure I get as much done as possible within the allotted timeframe.

    Here's an interesting thing I realized after reading everyone's comments - Back at the office, I wasn't really disturbed by voices or the sound of discussions. I was quite good at tuning it all out unless I was required to listen. Now that I've been working from home for over a year, I feel that I can't apply this same skill at home. And I think it's because the voices at home are those of the people I am closest to. I am instantly drawn to my Mum's voice saying something in another room or even the smallest meow from my cat. Sometimes, it's definitely disruptive and breaks my chain of thought, but I don't think I can hep myself. Would love to know if anyone else has experienced this 🤔

  • Parul Nigam
    Parul Nigam Member Posts: 5
    Accepted Answer

    Hlw to all the members. My way of working is somewhat different or generally people called this way weird. Of course, sound distracts me during my work, but it will be sometimes. Apart from that, I read my own motivational quotes and then starts my works and believe me that works in a magical way. And as sometimes situation comes that I was very much restless then of course either I listen to my favorite music or go with drawing something.


  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin
    Accepted Answer

    Thanks for sharing what works for you @Parul Nigam And WOW! it's inspiring to hear that you rely on your own motivational quotes. Would you mind share these motivational thoughts with all of us here? I am sure a lot of R Voicers will find them useful.

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin
    Accepted Answer

    I like the process you follow to make a choice @Shaimaa Doma - using music to incentivize yourself sounds fantastic (also a little amusing 😊)

Answers

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin

    Your ritual sounds fantastic @Lidia Lins I think I want to try this one out. I've been a multitasker but also someone who is a little high on mental energy (read this as "not calm") and the ritual you mentioned might help me be grounded before I start. Since you mentioned looking into the distance to give your eyes a break, I just realize that I do that quite often. But sometimes I need to remind myself to snap back because it's quite easy for me to think of something creative while doing this and find myself into a rabbit hole. Do you have an instrumental playlist in mind - something you go back to often to focus better? I might be open to trying out something new!

  • Tony Nwankwo
    Tony Nwankwo Member Posts: 9

    I think listening to music from an online radio station works better for me and helps me focus better. But when what am doing requires deep thinking I put off every form of distraction including music. I also switch off notifications from all platforms Thereafter I can watch few minutes video comedy clip to refresh my brain. 🤭

  • Dahlia T
    Dahlia T Member Posts: 68 ✭✭✭

    @Tony Nwankwo , switching off notifications is a great idea! I find myself doing the same ...In fact, I recently turned off 'email notifications' on my phone.

    I am purposefully driven to water the soil to grow the seed that is already planted. 

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 88 admin

    Agree with @Dahlia T - @Tony Nwankwo I've never had notifications turned on for weekends especially. The mentioned of online radio stations just made me nostalgic! Incidentally today is one of those Monday's when I am finding it really tough to work fast. Everything seems to be taking its own time. Some of these techniques others have mentioned are most likely going to come to my rescue. 😀

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