Sometimes ideas come from the strangest places. Sometimes ideas stem from the intentional misuse of items. Sometimes in order to succeed you’ve got to take drastic steps. A couple of weeks ago I joked about buying some sort of headphone that might block out the noise. Turns out those types of headphones are kind of expensive. Turns out that my father-in-law (and my brother’s father-in-law) are into guns. Turns out people who use guns with any great regularity also protect their ears. Turns out that these types of headphones aren’t very expensive at all. And guess what… this helps me get a lot of reading done while in the presence of others.
Now it is certainly true that these don’t block out all of the noise but they certainly shift it to the background. My mother described the sound best as “like listening from the bottom of a pool.” Today, after several attempts to get some reading done (all interrupted), I took off to make a purchase that changed my life this afternoon (and probably will into the future as well). These earmuffs allowed me to read some dense theory (translated from German) while people chatted freely in the other room. It allowed me to concentrate on the words and their meaning instead of the latest topic of conversation nearby. I also suspect that these rather large and obnoxious looking earmuffs will ward off potential “distractors” who see the concentration guards around my head and rethink interrupting me for something even arguably unimportant. If that doesn’t work I’ll be designing some choice stickers to adorn my large earmuffs. They will send messages, like ill-chosen bumper stickers, to those nearby. The message will be clear: I’m doing work. Leave me alone. What do you do to read things that are difficult to focus on (textbooks, boring novels, etc)? I’d love to know. For now… I’m sticking with the earmuffs.