Why I’m More Creative at Rock’n’Joe than the Office: It’s Not the Noise, It’s the Interruptions
Are you one of those people that can concentrate more in a coffee shop than at your own office?
Me too. When I need to come up with creative solutions, ideas for messaging or write new content, I do much better at Rock’N’Joe on Penn Avenue than at MASSolutions.
For years studies have shown that workers’ primary problem with open or cubicle-filled offices is unwanted noise. But yet many of us can still function in a noisy coffee shop.
Ever wonder why?
New research shows that it isn’t necessarily the sound itself that distracts us. Instead, it might be who is making the noise.
According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the right level of ambient noise triggers our mind to think more creatively. Some level of background noise is better than total silence. That’s why you might be at your creative best in a noisy coffee shop but struggle to concentrate in a noisy office.
The study showed that about 70 decibels of background noise—not too loud and not total silence—can actually boost one’s creative thinking by allowing our minds to wander yet still achieve what’s called “distracted focus.”
But why aren’t we as creative when the same level of noise happens in our open office space? We lack the discipline to stay out of those same conversations at the office. Sometimes we allow others to draw us in. Other times we are more than happy to jump right in on our own.
What’s the takeaway from the research?
It’s not about staying away from the noise. It’s about staying away from the interruptions. The ideal workspace has enough noise to let your mind wander while still achieving “distracted focus.” And it’s free from interruptions, gossip, and office politics.
In other words, it’s a Bullshit Free Zone.