Those of us that work in a busy office are constantly reminded of our distractibility. Someone walking in front of us will cause our heads to turn, and draw attention away from our current task. A sensation on our arm, and we pause to inspect it. Sudden sounds derail our trains of thought.

In the case of distracting sounds, I’ve found a useful tool: binaural beats. Binaural beats are sound recordings that supposedly trigger certain brain waves when you listen to them on headphones.

Before I got further, here’s a quick brainwave 101: your brain emits electrical waves in certain patterns which are associated with different types of thought. For example, Beta waves are emitted when you’re actively concentrating; Alpha while closing the eyes and relaxing; Delta while in certain stages of sleep, and so on.

Binaural Beats attempt to encourage your brain to emit specific waves. So for example, ADHD people often have trouble concentrating (i.e., trouble generating beta waves), so listening to a beta wave binaural beat recording should help you concentrate. I’ve found a lot of success with this. AcousticSheep LLC’s Noise to Concentrate is one recording I use often. At the very least, it definitely helps reduce sound-related distractions.

Remember that this won’t work without headphones. A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones I use are the JVC HANC100’s.

There are many other binaural beat recordings out there, including iphone apps and free mp3s. Try them out, and contact me with your experiences.