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I like reading books a lot. Usually have only time for that at night, after work, but at that time my wife likes TV a lot and specially zapping; continuously jumping from one channel to another. I hate TV, but when she zaps, given the noise and so on and the sudden changes of volume, I can hardly focus on the book. Sometimes I use headphones with loud music, but can not focus so well on novels and so although technical books work sometimes for me. Obviously I would like that both of us stay together and she likes TV, so I wonder if you could give me any hint to be able to read books in this situation.

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How does she feel about the situation? Is she willing to compromise on volume or by wearing tv headphones as well. Nice headphones could actually enhance her viewing experience. (Ok, that's a bit of a sales pitch, but could be true.) – eflat Feb 24 '12 at 17:46
yes, we have already talked about that, and sometimes she does not watch TV or lowers the volume. Here I just consider the cases when she is watching TV – flow Feb 24 '12 at 18:58
What about you wearing a headphone that plays white noise? – Brad Apr 28 '12 at 18:39
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Maybe it's better to do your reading at another place, where you can do it fully comfortable and let your wife watch TV comfortably as well. When you are not doing something together and you don't pay attention to each other, you would only restrict (limit) each other.

Then you could be bad-tempered because of bad reading condition or your wife could be annoyed, since she could not do what she wants and she could not have her comfort.

Believe me, if you give yourself two hours for your hobby, and your wife will have time for her ones, it is no catastrophe, but on the contrary, then you will enjoy your time spent together better, you can then share your new feelings and experience and you will be much more happy, as if you spend two hours together, but everybody with doing something else and annoyed by conditions...

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yes, I think you gave a very interesting answer, I agree completely with you – flow Feb 29 '12 at 15:01

A teacher of a productivity workshop once taught me that listening to classical music with approximately 60 beats per minute will calm you down, improve your focus and make you more creative all at the same time. I've experimented with it myself at work (I am a programmer) and it certainly does help me focus. If you use headphones, you can also use it for your reading since the music will block out the noise from the tv.

Search for music with around 60 bpm (faster music will make you more active, slower music will make you fall asleep), preferably baroque music (if you like it). Also, make sure that it doesn't contain voices/singing because that will distract you.

You might want to read this blog for more info.

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how about headphones with white noise? Bit of a google found, which appears to supply mp3s...

EDIT - I've also just wandered accross this:, which is entirely devoted to white noise...

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could you point me to some of them? – flow Feb 24 '12 at 21:24
I have this exact problem and I agree with the white noise. I use Lightning Bug for Android to generate rain noises. I've also taken to reading in the car sometimes... ya I know. – WalterJ89 Feb 26 '12 at 12:10

Give your wife a set of good wireless headphones that will work with your TV so that you are not disturbed!!

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I had a similar situation, but where I was the culprit ;D I'm a passionate gamer, but the hack and slash of the game would really get on my gf's nerves. I started using headphones, and now we can focus in the same room. The same goes for her, if she wants to listen to music or such while I want to focus. The headphones are really comfortable, and I actually often prefer them due to the sound immersion they give me. The only thing which headphones don't solve is skyping, or talking on the phone - the sound of voice can be really de-concentrating. – Rafael Cichocki Jun 6 '13 at 14:15

Make her a deal where you throw away the TV but she gets something else in return.

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Nice suggestion! I looked it up and the next "Screen-Free Week" is April 30–May 6. Lots of time to get psyched up for it, and it would make a nice trial of what's it's like to unplug the boob-tube. See – eflat Feb 27 '12 at 17:32

Two more possibilities:

  1. Turn off the TV sound and enable subtitles for her, if supported in your region. Market it by how it improves spelling and keeps you in the same room :)

  2. Consider audiobook versions of your books, the abridged versions if available. I typically listen to audiobooks (and TV recordings) at double-speed too to cater for the speed difference between listening and reading.

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about 1., I will try it, but I am not sure whether it will work. about the second, I never considered it, and can be a good idea,thanks! – flow Feb 26 '12 at 7:57

I find that breaking my reading down into small goals - say 5 pages at a time helps me focus on getting the reading done when there is noise all around me. Short goals like that allow me to accept that it's going to be almost impossible to focus for a long long time like I'd like to. After 5 pages (or however many) I take a little break - regroup - talk if need be and then get back to it. Hope that helps!

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very good point! I will try it – flow May 9 '13 at 16:08

Earplugs will muffle a good portion of sound if it is around normal voice level. If you can wait and don't want to pay, you can get samples from hearos (takes a few weeks ) and/or purchase any brand if you think that they are helpful. They are all the same, but its helpful in muffling most voices

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