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Music Optional: Headphones can Improve Your Productivity

There are a lot of tips for improving productivity, but sometimes the solution is as simple as a well-built set of headphones.

If you′re like me and easily   distracted, then a busy office environment can make it difficult for you to get anything done. Neighbors on the phone or catching up on gossip, music from another cubicle, or even just people passing by if you′re in a high traffic area–all these can break your working rhythm.

Headphones are a great, simple, and often overlooked way of improving your concentration and helping you stay productive–even during overtime. Here′s how:

Isolate to Concentrate

Music is a great way to both drown out backgrounds noise and relieve some stress– who wouldn′t want to celebrate finishing a difficult task to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger?” But some people find even background music too distracting. Headphones can still help with that, though.

If they′re solidly built, your headphones can be a portable “quiet room” where you hear nothing at all. There are also noise-cancelling headphones that can give you all the silence you want and more to spare.

Putting Up a Sign

Headphones are big, bulky, and a perfect way to tell people you′re busy. For that purpose, it′s as good as a door (or even better! Unlike an office, nobody is going to wonder if you′re actually working or not.) Headphones mean that people can′t just talk at you and expect a response. They have to physically get your attention, which discourages casual conversation. If someone taps your shoulder, it′s usually something important.


Being a Good Neighbor

If you like to listen to music or podcasts at work, blasting it out of your speakers is very rude. Do everyone a favor and get a pair of headphones.

Ear-enclosing, studio style headphones cost anywhere from $100 to $300 for a mid-range pair, but don′t feel obligated to buy one. Earbuds work just as well, although they won′t do anything to help if you have the music off. Remember, the whole point of this is to help you stay productive, not play “keeping up with the Joneses” with the guy in the other cubicle. It doesn′t matter how cheap it is, as long as it helps you get your work done.

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