White Noise: Why It Is Good for Productivity & Relaxation

What is white noise?

Some may have found themselves working more productively sitting in a crowded café instead of at home or in an open-plan office, and others may have had the experience that they fell asleep more easily especially when it is a rainy night. 

I believe you can somehow feel the relatability. Why would there be such situations, if it’s not just out of randomness? 

This is because “White Noise” like these, raindrops and people chatting in the café, can help us in terms of focus, productivity, and relaxation. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that participants who listened to 70 dB of noise performed better at work than the other two groups (exposed to 50 and 85 dB noise levels respectively). Just for your information, noise at 70 dB level is similar to the sound of a moving car 10 meters away. Noise at this level was reported to be just soothing enough to calm our minds and keep ambient sounds away, with itself not being too overwhelming to distract us from our tasks. This is called “White Noise”.

Similar to the definition of “White Light”, a mixture of all spectrums. “White Noise” is a mixture of all frequencies of sounds, including high, low, and mid-range. Most often heard in nature, the sounds of waves, rain, and forest are normally white noises. Other examples can also be found in everyday life such as TV statics, the sound of woods burning in the stove, and the boiling of water. 

Here is an example of what white noise sounds like. Put on your headphones and listen to this fries sound for at least 5 minutes and see how you feel. 

🍟 Fries

*Note: “Fries” sound is the most popular white noise in TickTick Focus.

Why does white noise work?

The main reason why noises like that can help us get more productive, focused, and relaxed is that it can block out other disturbing sounds in the surroundings and thus keep us in a non-distracted zone. Imagine you’re staying in a quiet café, where there are only several people talking while the coffee machine is running. You might be able to hear clearly each of the conversations from others around you. But if the café gets crowded as more and more people come in, conversations will start to fade away and become part of the background sounds. You won’t get so attentive as your mind skips from interpreting and processing information from these sounds. As a result, more attention will be allocated to what you’re doing at hand. This is why white noises can work in terms of attention and productivity.

When to use white noise?

The workplace is perhaps the place where we need to be focused most, especially because of increasingly various distractions nowadays: whips of your phone, a pop-up reminder from whatever devices, sounds of printers and coffee machines, loud talks from co-workers, annoying phone calls on the hallway, etc. The popularity of open-plan offices makes it even harder to stay away from these noises. White noises in this sense can be helpful, to help avoid disturbance for one thing, and to reduce your anxiety level for another. 

Studying is another case that needs a high level of focus and productivity. Dead silence in the library can make us particularly alert to ambient sounds, and sometimes even a drop of a pen is no different from an earthquake. But if you put on your earphones and listen to your favorite forest sound, you wouldn’t even be able to notice that because it can immerse you into what you’re reading or writing. 

People who suffer from sleeping problems, such as sleep deprivation, may also benefit from listening to white noises. Soothing and relaxing as the sound is, the anxiety level is way lower compared with sleeping in silence. Therefore, people may fall asleep more easily and are more likely to have a sounder sleep than usual. With a good-quality sleep, chances for a productive next-day are also higher.

One more situation that white noise can come into play is meditation. We’ve introduced how to do a mindful meditation before, and with the help of white noises, one can get more focused at the present moment and thus feel more calm and free during mediations.

Will the white noise itself be distracting?

Some may have sought help from white noises before but failed to see a fit, and others may wonder what if the white noise itself is distracting. Truth is that there’s no one-fits-all solution, and therefore sounds enjoyed by some may be noises to others’ ears. But one golden rule is the white noise that doesn’t incorporate too many high-pitched sounds or sharp breaks is the one liked by most people. Therefore, you found it is no use maybe because you haven’t met the right one yet. Being picky about white noises is the first step, and it may take some time to finally have one pleasant to your ears.

Give it a go!

Now that you’ve read it through, you may have got a better understanding of what white noise is, how it works, and when to use it. Fortunately, instead of looking around for other white noise apps or resources on media, you can simply find some great white noises in TickTick! We have recently replaced all of the original white noises with better-quality ones.

In TickTick, White Noise is supposed to be used with the combination of a Pomo Timer or Stopwatch in the Focus. The Pomo Timer (adopted from the Pomodoro Technique) is a good way to help you enhance concentration and productively get things done. You can choose a task you'd like to do and simply start the Pomo Timer in TickTick. Then if you feel you need a little more spice up, you can further choose a white noise as the background sound of your Timer. I believe it is hard to not be focused with the doubled help of the Pomodoro technique and white noises!😉

Quickstart tutorial: Select a task > Start Focus > Choose a white noise you like! Take me to try it!