Noise and Creativity

Silence, paradoxically, can be disturbing. Or at least distracting when you’re trying to get work done.

For thinking creatively, a bit of noise is actually better than none. A 2012 study from the University of Chicago confirmed this. Participants asked to complete creative tasks were much more creative and open to the ideas of others when there was a moderate level of background noise.

The best environments for working often have medium levels of consistent background noise. People have known this for a long time, which is why writers often work in cafes rather than libraries. However, you don’t have to change where you work to find an ideal auditory atmosphere.

My favorite app for background is called Noizio. It’s free and lets you mix and match a vast array of sounds, such as birds chirping, a soft rush of waves, and a crackling campfire. If you don’t have a Mac, a great alternative is the web app Coffitivity.

I feel more relaxed and creative when I’m using one of these apps. Whether you’re making an outline for a presentation or getting a start on the next great American novel, give one of these apps a shot. Let us know how it goes on Twitter at @Quick2LAUNCH.


Mehta, Ravi, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Amar Cheema. “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition.” Journal of Consumer Research 39, no. 4 (December 1, 2012): 784–99. doi:10.1086/665048.

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