Want to tune out the chatter? Here’s how.

Don’t you just hate it when you’re trying to concentrate on the task in hand, but you keep losing focus thanks to the noisy babble around you? A few years ago I discovered this handy little trick to help me maintain my attention, and it really works. If you can get the right track for you (make sure it’s one that’s loud enough), it cuts out almost every sound that the human voice can make.

Of course, sometimes we want to hear what people are saying – but when you need to get down and concentrate, hit the play button and tune it all out.

1. Ensure you have a music download app on your phone or computer. Ensure you have some earphones or headphones that work.

2. Search for white noise and see what comes up. Look for any track labelled sleeping aid, for example.

3. Find a track that’s at least half an hour long.

4. Download it. Transfer it to your phone or other device if necessary.

5. When the background distraction becomes too much, plug in and continue working. The noise you hear will effectively cut out much of the surrounding noise, and after a few moments your ears will accustom themselves to what they’re hearing, and you’ll be able to focus.

We have two thinking modes in the brain, and we have to activate what’s known as the Central Executive Network in order to stay focused. Once our brains begin to pay attention to other stuff, we snap out of the Central Executive mode, and have to drag ourselves back once more.

The reason white noise works is because it combines all the different frequencies of sound. This prevents you from being distracted by others’ chatter and enables you stay in the on-task mode.

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