Years ago, my writing desk was in a corner of the living room. I worked with people coming and going, kids asking what was for dinner and the phone ringing.
But not anymore.
Now I can’t stand the slightest intrusion into my thought process. If someone interrupts me while I’m working it seems to take forever to get back on track. And if it happens more than once within a short period of time I turn into a raving manic demanding that everyone be quiet so I can work.
Even the sound of someone rustling the pages of a newspaper or sneezing in the next room is distracting.
For a long time I thought it was just me. Some quirky idiosyncrasy that I’d have to live with. Well, it turns out I do have to live with it but so do most people over a certain age.
Researchers at the University of California have discovered that people over 60 have more trouble switching from one neural network to another than younger folks. That means if they’re doing something and are briefly interrupted, it takes them longer to get reabsorbed in their project.
In other words, doing, hearing or seeing more than one thing at a time becomes more difficult as you get older. I’m not 60 yet so must be going through early onset interruption fatigue.
But that doesn’t make it any easier.
Most of the time my partner’s pretty good about tip-toeing around but our heritage house wasn’t designed with any quiet areas in mind. I’ve tried noise cancelling headphones but they give me a headache.
And then there’s the phone. At times, to avoid being distracted, I simply don’t answer it. But now just the ringing is enough to scatter my thoughts like maple leaves in the wind.
So, what are my options? A sound proof office would be perfect but is not practical in this house.
An office in an outbuilding is a possibility. I always said I didn’t want a separate studio but, as the years go by and my sensitivity to interruptions increases, the thought of a totally quiet space grows more appealing.
If I don’t become hard of hearing, a shed out back just might be the answer.