Apparently you need to distract your mind if you want it to function effectively.
Some researchers in France, for instance, discovered that people were nearly twice as likely to give the correct response to a complex decision-making problem if they were distracted by a simple three-minute number-matching task before being asked for their answers.
A more-demanding distraction had no such effect: Participants had a 75% chance of giving the right answer after the easy task, but just a 40% chance after a tougher task or if there was no distractor at all. During an easy distraction, the brain seems to unconsciously enhance the memory of a problem's essence, the researchers say.Then some folks at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had people brainstorm ideas for new products while they were exposed to varying levels of background noise. Their results found that a level of ambient noise typical of a bustling coffee shop or a television playing in a living room, about 70 decibels, enhanced performance compared with the relative quiet of 50 decibels.
A higher level of noise, however, about 85 decibels, roughly the noise level generated by a blender or a garbage disposal, was too distracting, the researchers found.
Ravi Mehta, an assistant professor of business administration at the university who led the research, said that extreme quiet tends to sharpen your focus, which can prevent you from thinking in the abstract.
“This is why if you’re too focused on a problem and you’re not able to solve it,” Dr. Mehta said, “you leave it for some time and then come back to it and you get the solution.”
But moderate levels can distract people just enough so that they think more broadly. “It helps you think outside the box,” he said.
The benefits of moderate noise, however, apply only to creative tasks. Projects that require paying close attention to detail, like proofreading a paper or doing your taxes, Dr. Mehta said, are performed better in quiet environments.If you're a writer, and you like and can afford Starbucks coffee, I guess you're in luck. As for myself, I think this argues for working with an NCIS rerun on.