Open plan office workers know how hard it can be to focus on work tasks when surrounded by the hustle and bustle of office life. But researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered that working on creative tasks amidst ambient background noise can actually boost our creative ability.
In scientific tests carried out on undergraduate students, they found respondents performed better at word association tasks while exposed to moderate background noise than they did under exposure to lower noise levels. In another study, they found that participants in a medium noise environment—akin to a typically busy coffee shop or room with a TV set playing—generated more creative ideas than those in either quieter or louder surroundings.
So it seems that all that time spent in that “third place”, somewhere between home and work, might not be such a bad thing after all, as long as you are putting your brain to work on creative thinking tasks.
Sadly, the news is not all good though. Any task that requires intense concentration is likely to be best performed in a quiet place, away from noise and distractions.
But the results are compelling. When we need to think creatively, a little ambient noise can go a long way to enhancing our ability to think more broadly.
So, next time you want to think outside of the box, grab your credit card and head to the nearest coffee shop!
Alternative Solution: Can’t afford yet another venti-mocha-choca-goat’s-milk-latte? Just head to http://coffitivity.com/ where the ambient noise comes at you free!
Source: NY Times article