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How I Find Quiet for Puzzles



I must point out that I am not a doctor and what is contained in this article is not in any way medical advice, treatment or diagnosis (see disclaimer).


A puzzle, except for the simplest forms, will often demand concentration and the ability to think clearly in order to successfully solve them and when there is constant or loud noise it can become impossible for me to achieve these requirements and therefore will not be a fun or fruitful experience. It doesn't matter where I go be it indoors or outdoors there is potentially always a threat of noise from a variety of sources and therefore a potential disruption to a puzzle activity I could be doing. The type of puzzle I am attempting will also be important as it may be a puzzle that I have to use in a fixed location or there will be certain places it can't be used so I will be limited in where I can go to escape from the sound. The possibility to find a quiet place or time is above all dependent on my own personal circumstances at the time but in most cases, there will usually be some way to find quiet so here are a few of the approaches I implement.


Before I start to plan how I will combat the noise I am experiencing I first need to figure out if the noise is going to be short and temporary, for a long time but a one time happening or an occurrence that will happen regularly because if it is just a one-off temporary occurrence then I could either try to put up with it knowing I will never have to deal with it again or if it is too distracting delay attempting the puzzle for another time. If it is going to be for a long time or a regular occurrence and the noise cannot be stopped then plans will have to be made to escape the noise or to combat it. To escape and find a quiet place will depend on my living circumstances at the time because the more people I live with the more chance there is of encountering noise if I go elsewhere in my home and the likely fewer places/rooms that are free or empty but usually I can retreat to my bedroom and shut the door for some quiet. If I live by myself then I am obviously less likely to encounter noise from other people in my living accommodation unless I had loud neighbours who might argue or play music at high volume which would be a real problem if I would be living in a terraced house or in a flat and this noise was from next door. If I did have loud neighbours then I could try to confront them in a respectful and polite way to ask them to lower the noise or in more extreme cases call the police to intervene. The first place I would look for if my bedroom isn't an option to escape noise is a free room that is separate from the other rooms like the attic, garage or conservatory often can be or a free room that is the furthest away from the sound but not one in which I will not constantly be interrupted as I could be in the bathroom. A very simple solution would be for me to obviously shut the door or window if the sound is coming from outside the room I am in which could eliminate or dull the noise so that it is no longer an issue. I could go to a room in the house that is more soundproof or there could be a way to make a certain room more soundproof and I know soundproofing doesn't necessarily have to be time-consuming or expensive to implement and achieve good results. Soundproofing a room can involve all parts of it such as the ceiling, floor, doors, windows, walls, fireplace or any other element of the room that could let sound in or out and a couple of methods of soundproofing rooms that I know of are the use of soundproof foam and sealing up any unwanted cracks or holes especially around windows or doors but there many more methods that I could research and possibly implement or better still seek advice from an expert on soundproofing.


If I can't find any peace indoors in my home then I could try somewhere else with the first place to try being the garden/backyard as it is convenient in terms of location and is a good place to do certain puzzles anyway if it is a nice sunny day. However, if there is nasty weather such as rain or there is noise coming from my neighbours being in their gardens/backyards or from traffic on nearby streets then I could try further afield and go to the local library especially if the puzzle I am doing is a puzzle book and the library should also guarantee quiet. The shed could be a place to go where I am unlikely to be interrupted although it will likely require a big clear out to make room for this activity and also inside a shed, there are work areas like a table or shelf in which I could put the puzzle on. The car can also be a good place to seek refuge and find some quiet as it is conveniently located outside my house, I can literally shut out the outside street noise, they are comfortable places to sit even for a few hours and I can also turn the heating on if it is a cold day. Another option could be to go to a friend's or relative's house to escape the noise at my own place and I could even ask them to join in with my puzzle as it would be an ideal opportunity to try a multiplayer puzzle like a board game as puzzles don't have to be solitary activities.


Finding a quiet time can often be a better way to find quiet than seeking a quiet place as there are often times of the day when the house is empty in which I can do my puzzle in peace. The most likely times of day for me when there will be no or little noise because there are very few if any people up and awake are very early mornings or very late at night and so taking advantage of these times to do a puzzle could be ideal as I am a night owl but also can get up very early if I have the motivation to do so. There could be a time of day that will be free of noise for me but that may mean that I have to rearrange my schedule in order to make this time available which could mean getting up earlier to do a task to make room for it or for instance having something to eat at a different time to free up that noise-free time. It could be that in order to make the period of the day that is free of noise available to me I have to cancel or give something else up but this could be an activity like watching TV that could easily be replaced with a more productive one like puzzles if this period allows for quiet. It can be at work during breaks that I find time to peacefully attempt puzzles as the break room is usually pretty quiet except for not so loud chatter and there are often only a few people in there in which coworkers will happily leave you alone if you politely ask them to when I am busy with something and I can also sit away from the chatter noise as the room is pretty big. Lunch breaks especially are often the best time to do a puzzle as this is the longest break I get which gives me enough time to really get stuck into a challenge and I also have enough time at lunch to go somewhere else other than my work location that might be quieter and do a puzzle such as at the nearby park when the weather is nice or in a cafe when it is not. If the noise is coming from home and the only way to do puzzles is out of the house then I could commute by bus or train instead of the car in order to give myself the opportunity to play with a puzzle particularly one I need my hands for.


I have tried earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones in the past to help me get to sleep and found them uncomfortable to wear whilst trying to sleep but I found they did successfully block out the noise that was bothering me so kept them in case I could use them for another situation. I could potentially try them and put them on when attempting puzzles and need some sort of silence as they shouldn't physically impede on me actually doing the activity and they can be taken with me and used almost wherever I go with a puzzle. It is important however not to wear them in any place where I need to be able to hear for my safety but these will likely be places I shouldn't and won't be doing puzzles anyway either. Another option could be for me to listen to music to cover and mask the bothersome sound and will be ideally background music without vocals that is repetitive and doesn't have moments that jump out so I can concentrate on the puzzle. Masking a noise that is bothering me could be done potentially via headphones or by playing out the music through my speakers but of the two options wearing headphones would be the preferable option when I am not in my house alone as I don't want to bother other people with my noise.


If I can't find a time or place that is relatively free of noise or I can't lessen or mask the sound then I could try to learn to concentrate with the noise and try to mentally block it out. This might take a lot of practice depending on the sound that is distracting me because if the sound is too loud or bothersome then it will be likely impossible to concentrate no matter how much practice I have put in but within reason, it should be possible for me to concentrate on a task such as a puzzle with a lot of noise going on and it still be a reasonably enjoyable experience. I don't want to expose myself to loud noise for too long a period and end up damaging my hearing so there will be a limit to the loudness of the noise I would expose myself to and tolerate. When I am super concentrated on one thing then I have found it can be possible for me to block out everything else that is going on around me like an athlete/sportsperson would block out a large noisy crowd by 'getting into the zone' as it is known. I might be able to better concentrate with noise when I have had something to eat as when I am hungry I can often be more irritable and more easily distracted which is not conducive to solving puzzles. When the noise is gone and I have been able to successfully complete puzzles with noise then concentrating without noise should be a breeze and I will have likely improved my puzzle-solving abilities tremendously.


In conclusion, there are a number of fairly straightforward and reasonably easy performed steps I can take that could either get rid of my noise problem or make it less of an issue so that I am still able to pursue my puzzle hobby and it will be only in rare circumstances that I can do nothing about the bothersome sound.

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