Blog Post

Do noise and distractions boost your creativity?

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 27 July 2016



Do noise and distractions boost your creativity?
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 193
Posted DateWednesday 27 July 2016 15:06 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

When I used to code and had to focus, I needed a quiet room without interruptions but today when I write far more than I code, I find that working in a coffee-shop is more conducive to my thinking and writing.

I have often commented or reflected on this phenomenon and recently tripped over some research that shows that the background noise of a coffee shop may be helping to boost my creativity.

There is even a website Coffitivity that recreates the ambient sounds of a café supposedly to boost your creativity and help you work better. Give it a whirl and see if it works for you - not so sure it does for me - it just gets annoying after a few minutes :-)

But I think there is more to the café environment than just the noise of the background chatter - it's the distractions of people as they come and go that seem to inspire me. Being highly social, I like to take the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone - often not for long, but long enough, for my mind, to relax and change state so that when I return to my writing, I see things in a new light. I like to be able to observe and interact with people as and when I choose.

So I thought I would Google to see if there was any research to support the idea that distractions boosted creativity and sure enough there was: Inspired by Distraction; Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation and here too The Right Distractions Can Boost Creativity.

Though maybe I could find research to support any hypotheses I might have :-)

But seriously, I think there is a great deal in this and I think the distractions of the noise and bustle and social interaction of a Knowledge Café have a positive impact on the conversations and the creativity of the people taking part. There is some research to support this also.

I am always on the lookout for research concerning conversation - do let me know if you are aware of any.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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