In an ideal world, I would wake up every morning, get ready, and commute to the office where, after a quick cup of coffee, I would slip into my business swimsuit (pinstripe) and crawl into an egg-shaped sensory deprivation tank. There, I would spend the rest of the day working, reclined and blissfully uninterrupted, pausing only for snacks and bathroom breaks. (Also, the tank would be outfitted with one of those wooden bath caddies on which I could prop my computer to prevent it from getting wet.)
We don’t live in an ideal world though, and as it turns out, most companies will not install a $14,890 sensory deprivation tank for you even though they just installed a standing desk for your colleague. Hmm. K.
Thus, it is up to every person to figure out on their own how to concentrate at work. For me, as someone who lives to eavesdrop on absolutely everyone, no matter how far away they are, how quiet, or how boring their conversation, this is difficult. I tried music, but it made me feel too alive, which is not an energy I need at the office. I tried noise-canceling headphones, which succeeded in making me feel dead. Unfortunately, every time someone tapped my shoulder to get my attention, the reminder of existence startled me so much that I screamed.
I needed blankness, a void in which only my work can exist. First, I experimented with white noise, listening to various videos on YouTube (“Best White Noise for Studying” was my favorite). They worked pretty well — the static hiss blocked out most other sounds, but wasn’t so loud that I couldn’t hear someone calling my name. Then, to mix it up one day, I clicked on a video called “Deep Layered Brown Noise (10 Hours)” from the user crysknife007, and my life changed forever.
Brown noise (not to be confused with the dreaded brown note) according to its Wikipedia article, is signal noise produced by Brownian motion. I don’t know what that means, and there were several equations involved, but I can tell you that brown noise is softer than white noise. If white noise is getting pricked with a billion tiny needles, brown noise is getting swathed in a billion yards of cotton, and this video, because the noise is “deep” and “layered” is like being caressed with a billion yards of silk.
Colored noises (brown, white, and pink) help with focus, because they act as a “muffling blanket of sound,” says the guy in this SciShow video titled, “Colored Noise, and How It Can Help You Focus.”
“Your brain is especially attuned to detect changes in your surroundings if there’s a low level of background information,” he explains. “When it’s silent, almost anything can alert your brain, and you can’t help but pay attention.” When you turn on brown noise though, to use the best example, it masks these outside sounds “by making them less significant compared to the background,” allowing you to remain happily ensconced in your muffling blanket of concentration.
Now, every morning, I wake up, get ready, and commute to my office where, after having a cup of coffee, I plug my headphones into my computer, and slip into “Deep Layered Brown Noise (10 Hours).” There, I spend the rest of the day working, blissfully uninterrupted, pausing only for snacks and bathroom breaks. I love it. It quiets my nosiness, my busy, nagging thoughts. It centers me, focuses me. When the video ends, after ten hours, I start it all over again. I love the soothing nothingness of brown noise so much that I downloaded an app to listen to it while I sleep. It is the soft, monotonous soundtrack to my life.
If you would like a more personalized experience, crysknife007 also offers Deep Layered Brown Noise videos that are one, six, eight, and 12-hours long. These all sound exactly the same, and are all very good, though I remain loyal to my ten hour video. If you would like to listen to something other than brown noise, I’m sorry to say that you’re wrong and I won’t be party to helping you make a bad decision. Please, for your own good, give it a try. And lastly, if you would like to gift me a $14,890 sensory deprivation tank, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.