In a previous post, "The Tech That Saved Our Marriage," I talked about the solution for my snoring that enabled my wife to get a good night's sleep and prevented me from becoming a punching bag at night. I'm no neuroscientist, but it's interesting to me how in certain states we are more susceptible to noticing (and being annoyed) by sounds.
In the thankfully rare situations where I experience insomnia, I can hear every tick-tock of the clock and the hum of the air conditioner is a jet engine. When I was in school studying for finals, other's laptop keys sounded like spiteful castanets. Today, whether at work or home, the challenge is creating a cone of silence for when I need to do deeper or more creative thinking.
Here are some EZPZ silence solutions I recommend.
1. Headphones. Let's start with the most common and obvious one. Pump in some music (for me, music without words) and you are good to go. Use sparingly to protect your hearing and to not tune out too much.
2. Move it! When faced with an unrelenting force like a spirited child or raucous co-workers, sometimes the best move is to actually move somewhere else for a bit. Your car, a coffee shop, a conference room or any other convenient destination.
3. Switch it! If you know the noisy condition is temporary and you have the option, switch to a task that you can do in spite of the noise or perhaps one that is enhanced by the noise.
Finally, you could always opt for the approach taken by Charlie's father in So I Married an Axe Murderer, "SHUT IT!" I think the scenarios where this works in the long run are few, no matter what your role, but just wanted to mention it.