Is it easier to focus in complete silence, or is some ambient sound (like instrumental music) preferable?

Vickie X.
It depends on my state of mind. Sometimes an ambient sound can be helpful and more relaxing, other times could be annoying, for instance when I tired or worn out by too much media
Dawn T.
I prefer ambient sound surrounding me as this puts me in the right frame of mind. I do not think it is an issue of ease but an issue of preference. Music is life
Gilbert E.
I have experimented with this question a lot. I have found that I am absolutely more productive when there is silence. But if I work in silence all day, it lowers my spirits. So as a balance, I just listen to music or podcasts sometimes and sometimes silence.
Felix G.
It depends. When I really need to focus, a complete silence is needed. But when the work needs speed or is boring, I find sitting in a coffee shop works better.
Indro A.
If the work is hard and laborious… silence is required. If the work requires some creativity or a spark of insight, I will have background noise… believe it or not cafe sounds on youtube
Georgia O.
Silence is easier to focus in. When you have music, I feel as though it can get distracting whether its instrument or not.
Sara U.
I find it easy to focus when there's a bit of sound for example when I'm studying I listen to relaxing music n when I'm doing chores I normally work better with music playing in the background
Darrell J.
If doing some maths and stuff then music even with lyrics work. If some other kind it is better to have some ambient song in background rather than lyrics. Also working without music is ok, there is usually some ambient background noise.
Adiel N.
I find for me that when I need complete focus but can’t get it myself that ambient “focus music” works well. Otherwise if I just happen to be working and focusing it is in silence and I don’t have to think about it.
Rubim P.
When doing deeper work, I prefer sounds like white/brown/pink noise, or nature sounds like rain and birds. My ADD handles these sounds the best when trying to focus.

Music, even when instrumental, can distract me if I hear a song I know or a song I just really don't like. If I know the song, I'll get zoned out and follow the song. Alternately, if I dislike the song, I'll get zoned out because I'll feel the need to skip or change it.

Silence can be distracting for me as well, because we don't actually live in true silence. There's constant ambient noise: the kids across the street playing basketball, the car driving by, the dog barking next door, etc… (all happening as I type!) I'm not someone who can ignore every little thing – even if it's not necessarily a bother. I don't mind the aforementioned sounds, but I'm compelled to investigate or see what's going on instead of staying focused. And even just 30 seconds can sometimes be enough for a task to end up going uncompleted.

If I need to focus less deeply – gardening or exercising, for instance – I listen to my favorite podcasts or music that keeps me moving. These things help the time pass and keep me occupied without fully distracting me from the task at hand.

I hope this helps!