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Podcast Episode 51: How We Work Remote: Using Sound to Aid Focus

Jeffrey Lambert
Apr 13, 2020 1:22:49 PM

Working at home comes with a different set of challenges than an office. A common challenge is blocking out those external distractions. We have some ideas to share with you on what works for us.

Episode Transcript


Jeff Lambert (00:00):

Working at home comes with a different set of challenges than an office does. A common challenge is blocking out those external distractions. We have some ideas to share with you on what works for us. Hello and welcome to Inbound Academy everybody, brought to you by Rizen. I am your host, Jeff Lambert. In the studio with me today is CEO Rogelio Rodriguez. Rod, how are you doing amidst all this quarantine nonsense?

Rogelio Rodriguez (00:26):

I'm doing well. Thank you very much, Jeff.

Jeff Lambert (00:30):

This is the perfect time to talk about the topic of what we're going to be covering today, because so many more people are working at home than there were even just four weeks ago.

Rogelio Rodriguez (00:39):

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, everybody I know is working from home for the most part.

Jeff Lambert (00:46):

Yeah. I mean, most of us don't even have a choice in that matter. This is the new nature of work for the time being, but we're used to it, so we want to share what works for us. We've been able to grow this way and if you're new to the remote space, here's some ideas. So let's go ahead and jump right into that. We're going to be talking about working from home and how to make that actually a productive experience because it can be tough to meld those two things. So I guess in your own life, why don't we start off by, can you tell us a little bit about what's it like working at home for you? What's a day in the life of Rohid like?

Rogelio Rodriguez (01:22):

Sure. I enjoy working from home. I mean, I miss going out there and seeing people and shaking hands, and all the social interacting action that I'm used to. But I've also been working from home on and off for a long time ever since I started on eBay. I mean, my entire eBay business was from my parents' second bedroom that I had. I worked there for hours on end, and I got used to really being productive at home. So then when it was time to open up an agency, it felt natural to really create something that had the capability to be at home and run the company completely remotely. It's really using the traditional office as a tool for us, but not something that we forced upon our employees or associates to go to. It was something that we felt was beneficial because it helps us improve a lot of things that we care about, like human happiness as well as productivity, two super important points that help with that. And recently I've actually looked at different trends and read several articles that actually go hand-in-hand with what I'm trying to accomplish with the company. FlexJobs mentioned that 75% of people say that they are more productive working remotely due to fewer distractions.

Rogelio Rodriguez (03:10):

Then nearly two in three survey respondents from a survey, a company called SHRM, say that they're more productive now than when they worked onsite at a company. I mean, that's amazing. Then also two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers, according to Tekla. So the numbers are good. They're looking good.

Jeff Lambert (03:39):

Yeah. I mean, it shows that remote work, I think it's the future. It helps. I mean, it saves so much money. It's good for the environment. My favorite benefit by far, not having to wear pants during Zoom meetings. That is an excellent, excellent feature. You can just like, pajamas on the bottom, suit, tie on top. Can't go wrong.

Rogelio Rodriguez (03:58):

That's right. Epic, epic.

Jeff Lambert (04:00):

I mean, do you have any benefits ... I guess in all seriousness, do you have a benefit that really jumps out at you? The number one thing you just really like about being able to working remotely?

Rogelio Rodriguez (04:08):

My favorite thing about working from home has to be my snacks. They're available 24/7. Whenever I want I go to the fridge and pick them out.

Jeff Lambert (04:17):

Now you said it, so you got to share. What's your favorite snack? What's your go-to?

Rogelio Rodriguez (04:22):

Oh, man. I like cheese, so mozzarella sticks. Those, what do you call it? String cheese.

Jeff Lambert (04:30):

Yeah. I'm right there with you. Cheese is also my go-to and my gym time hates me for it, but oh, yes. Keep it coming. So that's a good jump-off into the next question, Rod. Let's talk about I guess average distractions. There are a lot of benefits to working at home and stats back up that it can be good for workers to switch to this type of situation, but it comes with its own challenges. Can you talk about what's a typical day like for you in terms of distractions that you have to deal with now that you're out of the office?

Rogelio Rodriguez (05:04):

Sure, there's a lot of them. I have self-diagnosed myself with ADD, so shiny objects are a distraction on their own for me. I mean, common distractions that pop up throughout the day, my dogs, they may bark or be loud every now and then. So it's good to find a place a little away from them. Also interruptions from chats as well. You think working at home, you're going to have less distractions but it actually could be more because multiple people are trying to reach you at the same time. So your chat, either Slack or teamwork chat are actually filled with notifications that need answering.

Jeff Lambert (05:54):

Yeah, that's true.

Rogelio Rodriguez (05:57):

A lot of the things that keep me away are also easily ... I mean, as much as I love having my snacks available, that could also be a distraction. Because it's right there and you go downstairs and grab your snacks instead of working right on there as well. But that's about it. I mean, that's, for me at least, distractions from entertaining things that I could take advantage of while I'm home instead of working.

Jeff Lambert (06:29):

Yeah, because you're like, it's the same place you play. The place you work and the place you play or now one. Yeah, I can get that. I mean, for me it's more, I'm coming from the perspective of now that everyone's in the house ... and it's not normally this way, but I've got my three-year-old running around tearing everything up because he's not in school right now. So that's a distraction. I've got my wife working from home, so she's doing her thing. She's on video calls and trying to get through her eight-hour day. But even on a regular day, if a package comes by and the doorbell rings or like you said, if the dogs bark it can throw you off. If you get a phone call about a doctor, a dentist. I think it can be a bit easier to insulate yourself from those things when you're in an office environment, but that's not necessarily the case when you work at home. So I think there's a difficulty maintaining a strong focus, and there's just constant distractions that are going to break up your productivity.

Rogelio Rodriguez (07:29):

Yes, absolutely. It's always a fight to get back on track, especially when you have a job that requires thinking, a lot of thinking. You get paid to think. So part of that is having the ample time to focus on the activities that push the productivity for the company. Absolutely.

Jeff Lambert (07:52):

Yeah, great point. What we do is really creative-based. We got to really have our heads in what we're doing. You can't just mail it in. So Rod, how do you maintain that high level of focus working from home? You've done it for a long time. Do you have any suggestions on what people can do to be able to stay in that creative zone, to maintain that focus?

Rogelio Rodriguez (08:12):

Yes. I've been a fan of optimizing yourself constantly. So one of the things that I've found to be an ally has been sound, right? It helps me regain and maintain focus when the workday really has a lot of distractions. So we need to figure out how to speed up, how long it takes to get back into that work groove or that flow that you feel where you are productive and getting things done. I personally use something called binaural beats. It's a music track that has two tones of different sound frequencies. One tone is sent to your left ear and the other tone to your right. Your brain interprets those two frequencies plus a third one; the mathematical difference between the two. So let's say-

Jeff Lambert (09:13):

Just so I'm understanding, you're listening to a song or you're listening to like birds squawking? What exactly does this look like?

Rogelio Rodriguez (09:23):

Well, I guess it could be birds squawking, but no. It's a combination of sounds. I'll play a track for you, so you can see what this sounds like. One of my favorite tracks actually developed from Aubrey Marcus and Cory Allen as well. It's called Temple Stillness. So you'll hear it here in a second.

Jeff Lambert (10:11):

All right. So it sounds like, it can sound like regular music. I'm with you. You were talking about, there's a mathematical science to how binaural beats work. Can you go back to that real quick? Maybe you give us an example.

Rogelio Rodriguez (10:24):

Sure. Let's say that your left ear is a hundred hertz frequency while the right ear simultaneously hears 115 hertz frequency. The difference of 15 hertz will be heard by you as a third sound, a binaural beat essentially.

Jeff Lambert (10:44):

Okay. And this is the new thing?

Rogelio Rodriguez (10:47):

No. It was discovered back in 1839, a Prussian physicist named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, but it's gained popularity in recent years. So it's something that's been around quite a bit.

Jeff Lambert (11:03):

And just to [inaudible 00:11:05] before we jumped a little bit deeper into binaural beats, there are specific benefits that you have found to using these?

Rogelio Rodriguez (11:11):

Sure. I mean, it helps me get re-engaged. I listen to them on a headset that covers my ears. I usually play them while I need to do either statistics, statistical analysis or working with large spreadsheets trying to analyze numbers, anything that would require me to think for a prolonged amount of time. I've seen, for me at least, help me get back into that focus mode after I've been distracted. I mean, sometimes we can't help distractions, right? Our dogs are going to protect the house and bark super loudly. We can't help that. But we need to find a way to really get back quickly to it, so I found that using these binaural beats helps me focus and more than that, helps me come back to focus in a much quicker manner than I would without them.

Jeff Lambert (12:11):

Sure. Makes sense. Is there any science behind this that maybe it works for a certain industry or a certain group of people outside of just what you've found?

Rogelio Rodriguez (12:21):

Yes. Different research based on 30-minute focus tasks suggests that binaural beats can enhance both performance and mood. Then a different study from that found that binaural honored auditory beats can affect longterm memory, both positively and negative, depending on the frequency used.

Jeff Lambert (12:40):

Oh, okay. So you got to be careful about where you get your binaural beats, I'm sure.

Rogelio Rodriguez (12:44):

Yes. Yes. I picked this up, like I said earlier, from an Aubrey Marcus podcast. He was talking about binaural beats and how it helped him even prepare to go to sleep. Or on days where he would have trouble sleeping the night before he would do two or three sessions of binaural beats, 10 minutes or longer, to almost use them as a recovery, as a way to calm his mind and angst. I found that very, very enticing and at the time I was having trouble sleeping so that's one of the reasons why I ended up downloading the binaural beats a couple of years ago.

Jeff Lambert (13:27):

So you mentioned Aubrey Marcus as an option. He has a podcast. He is the founder of Onnit, right, Rod? The nutrition fitness company Onnit?

Rogelio Rodriguez (13:38):

Yes. Yes, he is. He is the founder of Onnit. I mean, they produce a lot of different products that help humans just be better, perform better, improve overall from physical fitness to mental fitness. You can really spend quite a bit of time on his site researching their products. You'll find that there's a lot of neat information about all kinds of things including binaural beats, which is where you can go ahead and try them out.

Jeff Lambert (14:18):

Got it. Got it. Do you have any other influencer sites that you would recommend for binaural beats or is Aubrey Marcus the best one that you would recommend?

Rogelio Rodriguez (14:27):

That's the one that I followed that has binaural beats, but the individual that helped him put together the binaural beats as well, Cory Allen, they worked together to create those two. Cory Allen is, I believe, a sound engineer. You can find him as well to get some more information about how these different types of musical frequencies can help you improve and focus.

Jeff Lambert (14:58):

I'll make sure to include links in the show notes to both, so our listeners can just click and go right to it and check it out. All right, that's great. So we have binaural beats. I can see why they would help you and I'm certainly going to check them out. Do you have any other recommendations for sound? You mentioned sound helps you in a lot of ways. Is there anything else besides binaural beats, to help you maintain focus and productivity?

Rogelio Rodriguez (15:21):

Sure. It's a little bit more boring, right? It's not as exciting as binaural beats, but I think white noise. We used white noise machines at the office as well. We used to use them to help ... just because we had an open office so it could get really loud. Then white noise helps really mix in all the background noise and then helps you maintain or at least assists with maintaining your focus. Especially if your mind tends to wander when you're in an environment where you could be split by the sounds that are around you. So you can really set the tone at home using a white noise machine. And a white noise machine, it could be something simple like just an air conditioner or a fan could be turned on, that could be a white noise machine. Really, the idea is to try to reduce the difference between the background sounds and the peak sounds like the door slamming or a dog barking, you want to create a constant ambient sound to help mask any other activity from inside or outside the house.

Jeff Lambert (16:36):

Got it. Yeah, that would depend on the environment you're in. How noisy it is, just creating that baseline sound. Do you have any sources where people could go and get white noise sound clips or things that they could play if they want to step it up from just a fan or an air conditioner?

Rogelio Rodriguez (16:54):

Yes, I mean, that's great. It's been around online since 2013 and it gets up to a million hits a month.

Jeff Lambert (17:03):

Oh, wow.

Rogelio Rodriguez (17:03):

They also have mobile apps, Android and iOS. So you can take a look at and download some white noise sounds.

Jeff Lambert (17:13):

Got it. So we'll include that in the show notes as well. So Rod, you're saying sound can help you focus at home and you're recommending white noise and binaural beats to really help assist with being able to manage I guess the craziness that can come with working at home.

Rogelio Rodriguez (17:30):

Yes, absolutely. I mean, I use them so I do recommend them. I have tried to recommend them to everybody I know who has a job where they have to focus for a certain amount of time.

Jeff Lambert (17:43):

Got it. Well, in that case to our listeners, hey, check them out. You're hearing it from someone that has a lot of experience working remotely. So again, we'll put the links in the show notes and hopefully you'll get a chance to try them out. Hey Rod, thanks for stopping by and stay safe during this time. We will talk again soon, I'm sure.

Rogelio Rodriguez (18:00):

All right. Thank you very much, Jeff. You stay safe and well, and we'll talk soon.

Jeff Lambert (18:05):

Thank you, sir and thank you to our listeners for joining us for another episode today. Keep in mind, you can expect a new episode every week. We're always going to make sure that they're filled with advice like today that can help you grow your business and maintain a productive atmosphere. Remember too, if you're interested in finding a partner that can help you with your marketing efforts for your business ... if you're looking for someone who has experience, who's friendly, who's results-driven, you can check out Rizen, by going to That's Rizen with a Z. You can follow them on social media if you'd also like to see some of the things they're putting out, who they're working with, what they're doing on a daily basis. They're available on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn and you can just search for their username, @rizeninbound. That's one word, @rizeninbound. And to our regular listeners, hey, thank you for your support. It's always great to know that we have you tuning in on a weekly basis and getting the feedback that we get from you.

Jeff Lambert (19:04):

One way that you can help us, if you're a first time listener or a long time listener, if you can just leave a review on the podcast app that you're using, that helps us get in front of new listeners, which is really important. We want to be able to help everybody grow and succeed in this industry, to be able to grow all of our businesses. And boy, if there isn't a better time than now to really focus on revitalizing our economy. So thank you again for your support and we will see you on the next episode. Bye everybody.

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