One great thing about the new office we moved Navarik to in May 2005 is that all 35 people who work there can fit into a single large room. A few have permanent offices around the edge, and there are other workspaces employees can use if they need time to concentrate. I prefer to stay out at my desk, in the thick of things, most of the time, and today I found a useful way to focus even while I am there:
Inspired by my desk neighbour Randy, I brought my new Sennheiser HD 280 large, closed-back headphones from home. Rather than sitting in the piano bench or used only in my home office/studio downstairs, they work great at Navarik HQ, because they are sealed, i.e. they fit right against my head, so they block out a lot of external sound. That means, (a) I don't need to play my music as loudly to hear its detail, and (b) even relatively persistent ambient noise, such as my own typing on my keyboard, disappears. (People who want my attention do have to wave or tap me on the shoulder—or send me an instant message.)
I had a remarkably productive day—I don't know why I didn't do this years ago with my old Sony big headphones, which broke some time back. However, I do look like a huge audio geek (or perhaps a cool DJ?) on the SkyTrain, especially since my big ol' black headphones weigh 13 times what the iPod shuffle that powers them does. Good thing big cans are in style these days, and I have a lot of hair going on at the moment to frame them.
UPDATE: Here's some info on other headphone models I considered.