Here's an odd one...I close my eyes if I need to hear something better.
I've done this for most of my career so it's something that I picked up early on. Sometimes I'm trying to hear a subtle noise in the heart or lungs and there are people talking, machines whirring, or pets barking near me. Sometimes I'll take the pet into a quiet room if I'm really having problems. But I start by closing my eyes and focusing on the sounds.
Maybe someone can explain scientifically why this works. I firmly believe that it does! Perhaps it's psychosomatic, but closing my eyes seems to eliminate many of the distractions and helps me better isolate minor changes in sounds. It really seems like it shouldn't matter since your eyes obviously don't have anything to do with your hearing. Maybe by eliminating one sense the brain can concentrate on the other senses. At least, that makes sense to me! I've often heard that deaf people have more acute hearing and touch as they are more dependent on their non-visual senses. However, I don't know if this is actually true or just an old wives' tale.
I've noticed a few other people doing this as well. A couple of my staff do and I recently worked with another doctor who does the same thing. So it's not just me! If other people do the same thing there must be some truth to the practice.
If anyone in the medical profession does this or has seen people do this, let me know! I'd love to hear from other oddballs out there.