80. Focusing

I like to work in silence. It’s like oil to my thoughts, lubricating them so that they run at full speed in a logical order.

Sometimes, though, I can work with noise in the background if it is people talking. I can listen to my students’ conversations and grade papers at the same time. I have mastered the art of eavesdropping while getting stuff taken care of.

But anytime artificial noise comes on, like the television, a YouTube video, or music, then my thoughts jumble around and fragment.

My husband, on the other hand, can have a YouTube video on, argue with someone on Facebook, and be watching television at the same time. He also has the habit of doing all of this while I am talking to him, which annoys me because I think he is not listening to me. But when I ask him to repeat what I said, he almost always gets it right.

Different methods help people focus. Some people enjoy the quiet, while others like noise in the background. It’s not that one is better than the other—just different strategies that people’s brains respond to. So don’t knock what works for one person when it doesn’t work for you—there are sooo many different ways to learn and focus.

So if my husband likes noise and I like silence, how do we compromise? Headphones! When going to bed, I like to surf the web on my phone in silence, and he likes to watch YouTube videos. So he uses headphones and watches until he gets tired enough to go to bed without bothering me. (Sometimes, though, he pretends to lose the headphones and makes me watch funny cat videos with him).

What works for you? What helps you focus?

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