Active Noise Cancellation changed my life

Our world is loud, but we don’t always have to listen.

For those of us distracted easily, the act of not-listening to sonic distractions can prove difficult.

I had no idea how distracted I could become by the clinking of a teaspoon in my kitchen, even if I didn’t want anything to drink.

We are built to investigate audible feedback.

Who’s in the kitchen? Are they making tea, or coffee? Can I smell anything? Am I hungry? I could pop into to the kitchen and get all these answers in an instant. Whatever I was doing can wait.

While trivial in isolation, that single decision to investigate the mystery teaspoon can derail my entire morning, and has. Because once I find my sister in the kitchen making tea, a whole new world of potential distractions open up.

Four hours later I’ve watched three excellent episodes of Peaky Blinders, consumed more Tim Tams than I’m comfortable admitting, and discussed – at length – whether or not I could pull off a newsboy cap.

Meanwhile, my notebook sits lonely on my desk, my to-do list groans, and my bed shivers, its blankets curled up in a ball – unmade.

Until noise cancelling headphones. I hadn’t spent serious money on headphones before these, so I splashed out a little. I picked up some Sony WH-MX1000XM3s, and they have been one of the best investments into my productivity to date.

Let’s run through the clinking fiasco again.

It’s the morning. I’m sitting at my desk, headphones on, getting stuff done.

My sister is clinking away in the kitchen, really going for it.

The potentially catastrophic sound-waves she’s making travel through my closed door and approach my head – their pavlovian Tim Tam magic rippling dangerously close.

Headphones to the rescue.

With a their in-built microphone, they catch the teaspoon’s sound-waves, and generate an identical, but opposite sound frequency to that being produced in the kitchen. This is called an anti-frequency, it peaks when the sound of the teaspoon troughs, and vice-versa. My headphones play both sounds to me.

The result? Silence.

I tick everything off my to-do list, I write, I make my bed. I even read a little. The satisfaction from this productivity reverberates throughout the rest of my day, and I’m energised to do the same tomorrow.

All because I managed to avoid the devilish clink of an anonymous teaspoon.

For a more detailed explanation of ANC technology, check out this video with James May:

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