A Desk in Times Square

What would it be like to set up a desk in Times Square amid the flashing lights, constant foot traffic, and noise? For many employees in an open-office space, it’s the usual day at work.

Imagine writing a piece of “deep work” with constant interruptions, people calling out to each other across the room, and coworkers milling about one’s desk. It’s a sea of commotion. Yet the brain must make minute adjustments to text to create a seamless flow. As Maria Konnikova documents in her article, “The Open-Office Trap,” this is a very real-life scenario, and one that takes its toll.

Exposure to noise in an office may also take a toll on the health of employees. In a study by the Cornell University psychologists Gary Evans and Dana Johnson, clerical workers who were exposed to open-office noise for three hours had increased levels of epinephrine—a hormone that we often call adrenaline, associated with the so-called fight-or-flight response.

And that is for only three hours. For most office workers, the usual day is 8.5 to 9 hours.

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Say it out loud…

“This result suggests that if you are studying material, you might want to identify those bits of information that are most important to remember and to speak those bits aloud while studying. Even a whisper will help to make those items more memorable.”

~ Art Markman

If you want to remember something, it apparently helps to say the item out loud or make it distinctive in some way.