I just came to an odd realization recently regarding my preferences for noise vs. quiet depending on the type of work I'm doing--and how those have changed over time.
It seems that when I'm in a mode that requires lost of multi-tasking or context switching, such as handling a lot of small requests (email, anyone?), I work best in a very quiet setting. An empty house or library makes sense here.
On the other hand, when I'm working on something that requires prolonged focus and/or deep concentration, such as writing a longer article or developing a piece of software, I work best with some noise. Music from my iPod works well here.
I guess that when I need to concentrate, the familiar music blocks out most potential distractions, allowing me to focus. And when I need to be constantly disturbing myself, the lack of noise helps to make sure the distractions I take are those of my own choosing (mostly).
Have you found similar or differing patters in your own work styles?
Posted by jzawodn at December 03, 2007 07:06 AM