Focus: Can you watch TV while you work?

Can you watch TV while you work_edited-1

“Okay I can’t do this,” I handed the remote to my roommate and shut my laptop. “I don’t know how you do it. I’m going to my room.”

I have a problem. Six seasons in, I have finally discovered Suits. This weekend, my roommate and I sat side-by-side on the couch typing on our Macs. She was just a tad more successful at multi-tasking than I was.

“That’s because I watch How I Met Your Mother,” she replied, not looking up from her computer screen. I’ve lived with the girl for three years, and lay claim for introducing her to the best sitcom known to man. I believe I have the appropriate documentation to support this statement: The girl’s seen every HIMYM episode at least four times.

For two-and-a-half years, I worked from home. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my professional life. My office was a coffee shop blocks from my apartment, where I camped out each day beginning at 7AM.

When the success of your day rests completely on you and your own self-motivation, you have to figure out what drives you. I need people and buzz around me to stay focused. I can’t be confined to one space, I hate sitting down while I work, and pure silence freaks the sh*t out of me. In college, I went to the library to do homework. My coffee shop was my adult-life library: It was the perfect amount of open space, white noise, and people moving in-and-out to keep me fixated on my work.

Lately, I’ve been trying to freelance outside my nine-to-five. This is what I’ve discovered: Spending my nights and weekends on my couch with the TV blaring does not bring out my get-shit-done attitude. No sir, it does not.

Today, I texted three friends/colleagues—all who work from home—and asked the question, “Can you watch TV while you work?” and received these three responses:

  • I can’t focus enough to. I used to, but realized how much it made me context-switch, which really threw me off.
  • Sometimes I’ll watch an episode or two while I eat lunch, but that’s it. Just can’t concentrate

And lastly, my favorite:

  • Honestly? No.

What do you do for background noise? Or are you just one of those weirdos who works best in a dark, black-hole room of silence? Podcasts, music, watching an episode you’ve already seen four times—what’s your solution for dialing-in and focusing?

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