Headphones definitely make me more productive, without a doubt. For sure. Yes, indeed.
I tend to have a very active brain so there’s nothing like putting on a set of headphones to help drown out all the external noise and often the internal noise in my mind.
I didn’t grow up in the easiest neighborhood nor in the easiest school. It was a little bit rough and there was a lot of tension which constantly meant my fight or flight response was always ready, should anything require me to run very quickly.
Part of the outworking of this emotion and this emotional pressure was using music as an outlet for releasing some of that tension.
I think a lot of young people will agree and understand that when they put their headphones in, sometimes the world just seems an easier place to enjoy.
I’m sure there are plenty of related mental health benefits to headphones, not just music on its own but the experience of being able to isolate oneself in an open space and shut out what is going on around you.
This week has been an incredible week at work. It’s only Wednesday, but there’s so much going on, and working in an open office can be horribly distracting.
Not only do I feel the need to be leaving one ear open for all the conversations that are going on in case I miss something, the general noise and interruptions mean I’m constantly getting pulled away from my work.
If that work is of a technical nature, this means it takes a long time for me to get back into my flow. I’m sure many of you can relate. In fact, there have been studies done that the open-office concept for many companies is actually not working as well as people thought it would way back in the day.
I don’t think this means we should run out and start building walls and offices into spaces, but over the last 10 years, there’s been a lot of intelligent work done into creating spaces within an open office environment that allow staff to have meetings, take phone calls and even have small huddles without feeling like everybody is listening to them.
It removes that feeling that perhaps they are interrupting other people’s work.
So there’s no doubt in my mind that headphones make me more productive. There are a few ways that they do this. The first which I’ve just spoken about is that they isolate outside distractions.
While for the first little bit, I do feel a bit of FOMO, not being able to hear what’s going on in the office.
That passes fairly quickly and I can settle into enjoying whatever I’m listening to. Not hearing what conversations are going on, who’s walking in and out of the office, or distracting with witty banter.
Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones obviously create the best experience for the open office environment providing cancellation signals that help mute, not only the voices but just the general buzz around the office.
These can be quite expensive and do require charging, but overall, they’re definitely my first pick every time.
You ideally want a headphone that has a circumaural or over-the-ear design, so that you can really isolate your ears from what’s going on around you. The twin effect here is that you also don’t want people around you hearing your music and being distracted.
And so, choosing open-back headphones for the office isn’t a great idea. You really want to ensure that you have a closed-back pair, which helps keep the sound in, and as a byproduct can help increase the bass and sound isolation for you.
My Fostex TH-X00 headphones are certainly an amazing pair for the office, even though the cable is rather long and unwieldy.
The trick I find with passive headphones in the office, just any regular pair of open or closed-back headphones, depending on what you choose, or even your earbuds if you’re choosing to use earbuds is that you need to have a certain amount of volume to shut out the noise around you.
I find that even when there’s moderate amounts of noise coming through, it is still distracting. I find I have to have the volume at a point where everything in the office is gone, and all I can hear is the music. It’s that magical place where I can reach that flow, I can focus on my tasks, and I can be singular, and productive about what I do.
So, the first thing as I say is that they help shut out external noises that distract.
The second thing that headphones do that makes me more productive is that they do as I’ve just kind of mentioned help me get into a flow.
Without those distractions, and with a regular album or playlist playing, I find it very easy to even switch off from the music I’m listening to.
I actually find it difficult to get into the flow and increase my productivity if I’m listening to an album that is new to me, or that my brain really wants to listen to just to find new sounds or new elements to the music I’ve not heard before.
I find that I’m most productive when I’m listening to music that I know very well, music that I don’t mind my brain ignoring. This allows my brain to also close down a little bit on some of the surrounding sounds around me.
The third way headphones make me more productive is really just that they are a conduit for music. There is no doubt in my mind after years of being a musician and years of being an audiophile, that music itself is quite empowering, energizing, and downright healing.
And listening to it in a closed environment in my headphones is such a personal experience and allows me to feel things and express emotion without having any external manifestation. It all sounds a little bit intense but I think anyone who appreciates music knows exactly how that feels.
As a young kid, when you start to realize that you have an emotional reaction when you’re listening to certain tracks, that’s the first time I think the power of music is really a cognizant moment.
The fourth way that headphones make me more productive is not really about me, but about other people.
Once I put on my headphones in the office, people know that I really wanna be left alone to get on with some stuff.
I don’t wear them constantly. I think that’s unproductive in an office that’s open-planned. But it is a nice little signal that I can indicate to everybody that I have some stuff to do and I need to get on with it.
Usually, once I’ve finished everything I need to do, I take them off again, even if that’s after three or four hours or only half an hour, but at least then people know that if they need to approach me because they need something that they can do so.
Obviously, it’s not to say that I’m not available, but it’s just one of those signals, again, that helps me be more productive not only in the office but anywhere.
I’m sure that a lot of these things are relatable for you as well but if you have thoughts on this, I’ll always be keen to hear them in the comments below.
What are you using?
What I REALLY want to know is what headphones your using in your office, or what ever space to be more productive.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-04 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.