I found that my concentration and productivity are higher (probably up to 50%) when I wear ear plugs and when I work in a relatively dark room (shutters almost closed). That's probably not surprising as I am a software developer. I know that it is not uncommon for developers to prefer to work during the night - which achieves, more or less, the same effect.

My question is how to fit this in a "normal" workplace? Most offices these days are open plan - which brings plenty of noise. Also, there is a higher level of visual stimuli, e.g. people walking next to your desk.

Working from home (WFH) seems to be the best solution - I have a room at home which I keep mostly dark when working and I wear ear plugs. Unfortunately, not all employers are happy with WFH.

So how can I best achieve a similar effect in a normal office? I found a relatively good solution for the noise by wearing heavy duty ear muffs (like the ones used by operators of noisy machinery). I attract some weird looks in the office but this is not a big issue for me. The thing I haven't found a solution for is the visual stimuli. It is less bad compared to the noise but it still reduces my concentration and productivity by ~10-20%.

Which prompted me to ask: is anyone else dealing with these sort of issues? Is there something else I can try to help with keeping focus and concentration while at work?

  • A Timothy Leary tank aka Samadhi-tank crossed my mind, just make sure you have waterproof office equipment and a generous financial department.. ;) – iLuvLogix Oct 16 '19 at 9:26
  • "That's probably not surprising as I am a software developer." Well, it pretty is actually... – shrimpy Oct 16 '19 at 14:27

Good quality active noise-cancelling headphones (with or without music) and lightly tinted/filtered lenses (I find blue-filters greatly beneficial) in glasses (even if you don't require corrective lenses) are the best you are going to reasonably manage in an open-plan environment.

It's not a perfect solution by any means - but it helps significantly.


I'd suggest using time-management techniques to focus your productivity so that you don't feel too distracted by other things happening.

When I need to buckle down, I write myself a to-do list and work my way through that. I found that simply concentrating more lessens my tendency to be distracted by things.

I also find that the act of putting on headphones heightens my tendency to work more (it puts me "in the zone" and passively tells colleagues that I'm "busy"). Conversely, removing the headphones allows me some time to relax a little and engage in my surroundings because too much "zone time" isn't always a good thing.

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