Working from home can be too quiet for some people. Turn on the TV and set it to a low volume so that it’s not distracting but provides some background noise.
What is it about the combination of random background noises and side conversations of a coffee shop that seems to provide an ideal working environment for some people?

The background sounds and vibe make reading, browsing the web and even working seem a bit more relaxing in a way.

You know what we’re talking about, right?

Cafes strike the perfect balance between too much noise and too quiet. It’s the goldilocks level.

It’s not like a rock concert blowing out your eardrums.

But, it’s also not as whisper quiet like it is in a library.

There’s also the fact that there are other people around doing random shit - whether it’s the baristas behind the counter working their magic or other cafe patrons.

You’re not alone.

Having other people around provides that intangible sense of comfort. It’s knowing and feeling that you’re surrounded by other people, yet have your own privacy.

It’s the goldilocks thing again.

However, when you’re working from home, you don’t have background noise or a sense of indirect social connections. And if you’re the type that needs this kind of feeling to relax and/or be productive, it can be a real struggle to work from home.

Working From Home Can Be Too Quiet

In the office, there’s always some background noises. It’s your cube neighbor yapping on the phone, the sounds of the printer copier spitting out sheets, people talking in the hallway, keyboard tapping, impromptu convos nearby, etc.

In some offices, it’s way too noisy and trying to focus in a noisy office to get shit done can be impossible.

Cubicles vs open offices is a comparison that is often debated. Both have their pros and cons for productivity and noise levels.

It’s the same situation for work from home environments.

With the exception of those that live in a dense urban area right smack in the middle of it all, chances are that your place is pretty quiet during the day.

Yes, there’s always that random truck driving by, someone’s dog barking, etc. but for the most part, it’s mostly quiet in your place - too quiet sometimes.

After years of having to deal with noisy coworkers and trying anything and everything to mask or drown out the noise, you’ve become acclimated to the noise levels, almost used to it.

Now, when you’re working from home, you’ve got the opposite problem. It’s way too quiet. You need some moderate background noise to fill the empty space.

Millions of people that work from home have this exact dilemma. A little bit of background noise is all you need to get into the groove with work.

In fact, this study from the Journal of Consumer Research, indicates that having just the right amount of ambient noise can actually help with creativity and productivity.

The “right amount” varies from person to person and even the type of noises or sounds will vary too. Some prefer music without lyrics. Others work better with miscellaneous sounds. And some only want to hear nature.

What we’re after here is the social sounds of people being around. Because it’s the voices of others that bring a sense of comfort.

Use The TV To Create Background Sounds

Hearing another person’s voice provides an innate sense of connection - even if you’re not having a direct conversation with that person and not physically there.

It’s the reason why so many people have a connection with certain broadcast personalities - whether it’s on YouTube, radio or TV. You have your favorite YouTube personalities, TV newscasters, NPR reporters, radio DJs, etc.

While it’d be ideal to have your fav media personality talking in the background all day while you work, it’s not really possible.

However, having some kind of voice or conversation in the background while you work is better than dead silence.

Only some kinds of TV mesh well with work and only certain types of work mesh well with TV. It varies from person to person - only you know what works and what doesn’t.

What we’re suggesting is not actually watching TV but more like having it on and listening to it in the background while working. It’s having the random voices and conversations around to keep you company.

It’s one of the best work from home productivity hacks for people that need some ambient noise.

Best Kind Of TV Shows To Have On In The Background

Any TV show that requires your full attention or yanks your focus away from work is only going to negatively impact your productivity. This is all about having some background sounds to help you focus on work.

Remember, it’s the people in the cafe vibe that you’re after here. You want a steady lull of voices and conversations in the background not attention-grabbing content.

For example, watching a game show like The Price Is Right with all the screaming, bells, beeps, honks, cheers, etc. isn’t going to work. Just the anticipation of seeing the Plinko game is enough to distract any human on earth.

Leave the game shows for your sick days just like back when you were in school.

What you want to watch or have “on” in the background is content that won’t disrupt your focus or cause abrupt distractions. The best kinds are the ones that have on-going dialogue.

Here are some categories that work well. 

Reruns Of Your Fav Shows

Think back to your classic TV series favorites. It could be Friends, Seinfeld, Simpsons, NCIS, CSI, The Office (very relatable) or whatever. You’ve already seen all the episodes and you know how things play out, so it doesn’t need your full attention.

Hearing the voices of your favorite characters again is not only nostalgic, but also comforting in a way.

Don’t watch new series - that requires your full attention. Leave that for your “me-time” during the evenings and weekend binge marathons.

All-News Channel

Once you get past the morning news with your first cup of coffee, most of the day is just rehashes of what’s already been broadcast.

There will be updates and even some local breaking news scattered throughout the day. But for the most part, it’s just different angles and perspectives on the same topics.

All news channels like CNN and CNBC can work really well for some people. Having the volume on low will give you that background conversation vibe just like in the cafe.

The Weather Channel

This is along the same lines as the all news channel only it’s just the weather. When you already know how the weather’s gonna be today and tomorrow, maybe even for the weekend, you can pretty much tune out.

This allows you to focus on your work tasks but still have the voices in the background repeating the forecast or some facts and science about the weather.

When the information is something that you really don’t care about and don’t need to pay attention to, it’s easy to let it drift into the background.

Food Network Or Any Cooking Channel

This channel is a lot like the news channel in the sense that there’s always someone talking. Only here, it’s all about food.

Who knows, you might catch a few healthy snack ideas.

Cooking shows work particularly well because all of the random kitchen sounds of cooking with pots and pans clanking, water rinsing, frying, pouring, sizzling etc. complement the voices.

It’s a lot like the cappuccino machine hissing and popping in the cafe with people milling about and talking.

HGTV or Any Home Improvement Channel

Home improvement shows also work well for the same fundamental reasons as cooking shows. There are core voices and conversations that are often back-filled with the sounds of construction.

Or maybe, it’s the home buying shows.

If you’re going to be trapped inside your house all day working, why not look at some cool or beautiful houses for design inspiration?

Those shows are filled with dialogue and conversations that you can listen to at low volumes to add some voices to your quiet place.

Infomercials And Paid Advertisements

Most people already have an automatic “tune-out” skill when a TV commercial comes on. You know that it’s a commercial so you shift your attention to something else and the voices just fade into the background like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Use this skill to your advantage!

There are a few channels out there that are pretty much dedicated to long-form infomercials. It’s the channels that broadcast “As Seen On TV” bullshit like OxiClean, Slap-Chop, Snuggie, Spray-On-Hair, etc.

Because you won’t pay attention to the infomercial, you can shift your focus to your work with the yapping pitchman set at low volumes for voice tones.

C-SPAN - The Ultimate In Dry And Boring 

For the ultimate in non-distracting voices and conversation for background fill, try having C-SPAN on in the background.

This is the public service channel that broadcasts government proceedings and sessions. It’s boring as fuck.

Unless you’re a bureaucracy nerd, nothing on this channel will ever stimulate your attention. In fact, it just might do the opposite. You might fall asleep at your desk.

On second thought, this might be better for your midday WFH nap.

Go Ahead, Turn On The TV & Get To Work!

Everyone is productive in their own way and knows the exact kind of environment they need to get shit done.

Some people work best in a traditional cubicle office environment while others thrive in open office layouts. And yet another group does their best working remotely from home, hotel or even on an airplane.

Everyone’s working style is as unique as their personality.

Some people need absolute silence to work effectively. Others need some background noise and sound to fill the void of silence.

If you fall into that latter category and you’re working from home, go ahead and turn on the TV. Then, go to the “Goldilocks” channel or show that best meshes with your working style so that you can tune it out mentally and just have the background sounds you need to get in the zone with work.

No more deafening silence.

It’s time to turn on the TV and turn up your productivity!

Feel Better,

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