Getting away from people. It’s so simple. This is another “basic” tool I’d been forgetting about. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. In the face of other options I simply forgot about such a simple idea. I’d been toying with noise blocking headphones and eventually purchased earmuffs for firearms. All of these measures, however, pale in comparison to a quiet place away from other people, sounds, and other distractions. This becomes difficult with a family (especially young children) and is certainly difficult when you’re on vacation (and it is expected that you’d be socializing with family) but the simple fact is that a quiet place does more for reading and writing than any attempts at blocking out the noise and distractions that are all around you.
The truth is also that sound can’t really be blocked. You can’t really lower the noise around you to zero. You can minimize it but you can’t eliminate it. While I certainly suggest earmuffs if you’re in an environment that you can’t often escape there is something so simple about just leaving and finding a quiet space every once in a while. Lowering the noise often isn’t enough and if you’re prone to distraction like I am (and I really am prone) you should make the extra effort to find a quiet place. This is one of the most basic “basics” and it has proven very successful for me. Removing myself from other people and into a new environment focuses me solely on my work and pushes me to get it done quickly. I find myself reading faster. I find myself retaining more information more quickly. I’m not just scanning the words I’m actually reading them. So… earmuffs or a quiet place? Both… but use the quiet as frequently as you can.