Just because you've traded in the crowded office and the buzz around the water cooler doesn't mean you'll have all the peace and quiet you've ever dreamed of in which to work. As many a homebased business owner has learned the hard way, barking dogs, construction and kids playing in the street can drive you to distraction. How can you savor the sounds of silence--without moving to the boondocks?

  • Scope out the sound level in different parts of your house before choosing an office location. If the street out front is noisy, put your office in back. If your neighbor seems to mow his lawn daily, set up shop on the other side of the house. Basements and attics may offer greater noise protection.
  • Learn your town's noise abatement ordinances. If you think a neighbor is breaking local laws, discuss it with him or her before calling authorities. Until you complain, your neighbor may not even be aware there's a problem. Most people will muzzle the dog or turn down the stereo once they know the noise bothers you.
  • Block it. Open windows are invitations to noise. Install an air conditioner (the hum blocks the sounds) or listen to soft, soothing music while you work.
  • Insulate. Contact a contractor; insulating your office may be worth the cost. A do-it-yourself solution: Hang heavy fabric on the walls and windows. Cheaper still: Wear earplugs.

Lynn Colwell is a life coach and writer in the Seattle area.