I can only speak for myself but I know that I’m not alone when it comes to listening to music while I work – in fact, I’ve written about it a few times before sharing how I loop one song on repeat as my method of keeping things moving.
But the reason this is extremely important to my daily routine and flow is because it helps me pace my work and keep me focused. I’m not that musically talented nor do I really play any instrument well but I appreciate it as well as any normal human can – how I see music though is strictly a means to an end – in other words, I see it as an uncompromisable tool within my productivity toolkit.
Here are three reasons why music is absolutely essential to my personal productivity pattern and why I coach others to find similar tools for their own use:
I once wrote a very long research paper on how music creates near-physical environments for people and how you can, in your mind’s eye, understand the physical structure of environments through sound. One of the core pieces of research was centered around a flutist who created unique music in spacious environments and how you could psychologically “go there” when you listen to his work.
For example, he would go into the Taj Mahal and play music, bouncing his sounds off the walls and harmonizing with himself as the music would return to him. He’d do the same thing in the Great Pyramids and other extremely large structures. What you would literally hear are the nuances of the styling of architecture and the spacing of the walls and internal pieces – needless to say it was overwhelmingly convincing (enough to write a full paper on).
I intrinsically knew that music helped craft environment but I had never seen it done on such a large and explicit scale. I was hooked and I wanted to know more and then apply it to my own environment.
What has occurred over time is that with the right music I can literally transport myself to a place of high capacity and productivity every single time - all it takes is the music to bring me to that literal place and things begin firing on all cylinders. The physical space is important, sure, but not nearly as important as the psychological state that is assisted by the presence of music.
That’s why I invest heavily in some nice equipment and why I’m always interested in experimenting with other sound and audio systems because it’s such a vital part of my work. The environment that music creates in my head (and my heart) while I work is mission-critical.
2. Pace and Rhythm
The reason I put music on repeat is that it settles me into an understandable and workable pace that helps me create rhythm and movement in my work. It can be a difficult thing to explain but essentially what I’m doing is leveraging the music as a tool to literally pace my head, my hands, and even my breathing to the tasks that I’m attempting to accomplish.
I’ll often find myself in moments of clarity typing to the pace of the music which is a beautiful thing when I find myself doing it – most of the time it just happens naturally and I don’t have to think about it at all and it’s just happening organically. When this does happen time slows and productivity increases.
I’m not interested in listening to the lyrics and making interpretations on what the particular artist is trying to communicate – I know some people who can’t help but psychoanalyze the music and that wouldn’t be helpful at all since my time and attention would be on the music itself rather than my work! I’m using it as an internal metronome to help set the pace for my work and a rhythm of high functioning.
The result is that the music becomes literally imperceptible and that’s when it’s at it’s best.
The fact is that I’m happier with music as my background. At least one point in your life you’ve wished (or at least thought) how neat it would be some background music to your life or a “soundtrack” to your experience – because everything is better with a little well-timed piece of music, right?
We see this in the movies and it just makes sense that music enhances the moment, increases and deepens emotional engagement, and colors the stage for the actors. The result is a deeper level of satisfaction and enjoyment.
You see, music does that for me and when I love what I do I am more productive as a result. If I’m not enjoying it then I’m not as productive. This sounds so trite as I’m saying it and so obvious but I’m quite surprised at how many people don’t do anything to make their work (and existence) more enjoyable. They just leave things “as is” and believe un-rightly that that’s the best their going to get.
Music moves my soul and it’s rooted in the principle of work and pleasure – when the two are combined you create something altogether and entirely different. Masterful work is created through enjoyment more often than sheer force of will. Music allows this dynamic to occur and that’s why I use it, with abandon, in my workflow and productivity cycle.
So what about you? Do these things resonate (pun intended) with you? Do they resound (ahhhhh) with you?