Do you work with rhythm and flow? I challenged myself the other day to recall my best work when I wasn’t listening to music or had the TV on in the background. My own results are shockingly in favor of my favorite media musings. So why am I so much more productive and creative when I have music or TV on in the background?
1) Consistency For Focus – Expecting the expected to build foundation for your mind and thoughts.
Whatever source of media I use I always make sure its something I’ve heard or seen a few times before. Likewise you can use something that is “ok” to you, but at the same time not particularly interested in. It shouldn’t have to require your concentration but instead allow you to keep a constant focus over other things that would otherwise break consistency in your work. If you ever find your mind wandering you can default back to that consistency to help set you straight again. This is what I like to refer to as your mental foundation. Would a photographer take a picture standing up when he could lean against a wall? Would you build a house without clearing a hill and setting a smooth work surface? Its easier to complete your main objectives when you use a foundation to help focus your work. A familiar source of media can help you do this while subconsciously keeping your mind active. This in turn allows your work to be just as consistent and well focused.
2) Rhythm & Flow – Applying something that’s already simple to make something else easy.
This is more psychological then anything (at least for me). Listening to music where you already know the words can sometimes give you the impression that your tasks at hand are less daunting. Have you ever been working and suddenly realized you’ve been mouthing the words to a song, or tapping your foot for god knows how long? It was easy for you to pick up that rhythm, and subconsciously you apply it to the flow of whatever you’re doing.
3) Noise Retaliation – Fighting fire with fire.
Having those two other points be at an adjustable volume can help with unexpected noises and interruptions. Combined this with a headset as well if there are others in your immediate vicinity. Ironically enough, I actually find a noisy coffee shop or restaurant to have the same effect as music. The level of noise (many people talking at once) is consistent enough that it can be a reliable deterrent to any other minor distractions. Ever notice the smaller things bother you easier in a quit room?
TV can be distracting for some people, but it really depends on the person. Not all of you are as geeky as I am but I would suggest the Discovery or History Channel. I mainly choose these because they are much less drama filled then something like MTV. These have pleasant and unaltering tones in their voice over’s. This kind of consistency in your media source is important. Ultimatly its all about what feels right for you.
-Itunes and Winamp have free internet radio options.
-Digitally Imported – Consistent trance, dance, and techno music.
-Winamp StreamerRipper Plugin – Save the internet radio tunes to your hard drive.
-Pandora.Com – Finds songs similar to your initial entry and generates a playlist based on attributes of the song itself.
About 95% of the time when I’m coding, designing, or even writing these blogs, I have some sort of music or movie on in the background. Its the way I get into the zone and I’m sure many of you have similar habits which allow you higher productivity and efficiency.
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