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The Teaching Space Podcast

The podcast is on pause for a year (as of August 2021) as I am tackling the final year of my masters in education (which I am doing alongside my full-time job). In the meantime, please revisit the considerable back catalogue of episodes. Also, give me a follow on Twitter, where I am still very active and sign up for my personal newsletter here. You can visit The Teaching Space website here: theteachingspace.com.

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Jun 6, 2020

Episode 95 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores three noise-cancelling apps and websites.

Introduction

I am sensitive to noise and get distracted easily by sounds. This, of course, can have a massive effect on my productivity and focus. Over the years, I have realised the importance of carrying headphones with me everywhere. Currently I am enjoying Apple’s latest invention - AirPods Pro. Of course, the only downside of earbuds is that my hair hides them! Sometimes you want people to know that you are in focus mode. That's where over-ear headphones are great. They send a message. I am yet to find a pair of over-ear headphones with sufficient noise cancellation - if you can recommend anything, please let me know. Ideally, I want something that folds up so it can live in my bag.

As well as regularly using headphones, I also play music or sounds to help me focus. In this episode, I am going to share three options with you.

Noisli

  • Name: Noisli
  • Link: https://www.noisli.com/
  • About: Focusses specifically on masking background sounds (or, equally, beating silence) using sounds such as rain, thunder or cafe chatter. Noisli is available on Web, as a Chrome Extension and on mobile for iOS and Android. You can synchronise your favourite Combos across apps.
  • Features: Sounds (which can be combined), curated playlists, timer and a distraction-free text editor.
  • Pricing structure: Freemium (Free version offers plenty to get you started ). Pro is $10 a month billed yearly, and there is a Business option for teams starting at $24 per month billed yearly (two staff members).
  • Comments: Straightforward to use with a beautiful, calm interface. I love the ability to create combos, and the timer is useful. After you have been using it a while, you start hearing the sound loops, so there is the temptation to upgrade to access more sounds. The app and Chrome extension are fab.

Brain.fm

  • Name: Brain.fm
  • Link: https://www.brain.fm/
  • About: According to their website ‘Our science-first approach creates music that sounds different–and affects your brain differently–than any other music’.
  • Features: Music rather than sounds. Split into three categories: focus, relax and sleep. App available for iOS and Android. Timer option.
  • Pricing structure: Freemium (you can try five sessions for free). Thereafter, you will pay $6.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly.
  • Comments: Simple interface (if a little brightly coloured) enough options but not overwhelming. It works.

YouTube

  • Name: YouTube
  • Link: https://www.youtube.com/
  • About: This is your free option; there is a plethora of free tracks available on YouTube, just search ‘concentration music’ or ‘focus music’ and try a few out.
  • Features: Consider setting up a YouTube playlist to save your favourite tracks.
  • Pricing structure: totally free (unless YouTube Premium is an option in your country).
  • Comments: This is the perfect no budget option. It is worth spending some time researching YouTubers you like and curating that playlist. Be creative when searching, for example, if you are studying try ‘study music’ or ‘study sounds’. Other options are ‘white noise’ and ‘brown noise’. Don’t forget - if you have a music subscription like Amazon Music, for example, you can search for all of these terms there too.

What Did I Think?

YouTube is, of course, a great place to start with zero cost or risk. The downsides include adverts and the need for an internet connection.

With Noisli and Brain.fm, you aren't comparing apples to apples. The choice between the two comes down to personal preference. For me, I prefer sounds over music so I will be opting for Noisli. The free option is excellent, so you can get a feel for how it works for you and perhaps stick with that. Noisli also offers a 50% discount for students and teachers, you can find out more here at noisli.com/education. However, Noisli doesn't have sleep specific options included in the free option (Pro has a specific sleep playlist). Noisli is the most expensive option. Brain.fm is a good price, has good variety and covers different needs. All in all, it's a great allrounder. They both work, but in my opinion, they do different things for different people.

Wrap Up

And that's it. If you have any questions about this episode or comments you'd like to share, please do so in The Teaching Space Community: community.theteachingspace.com. I'd love to hear how you deal with distractions and whether you have tried out any of the tools I mentioned.

The show notes for this episode include any links I’ve mentioned; you can find them at theteachingspace.com.

If you have enjoyed this episode, please consider supporting the show by making a small donation towards the running costs on my Ko-fi page which you can find at ko-fi.com/theteachingspace. Alternatively, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or whether you listen to the show. Thank you.

Thanks for listening and I hope you'll join me for the next episode.