This is a legacy post from andreiathoughts.com, the precursor to andreian.com. It has not been updated and may not be relevant anymore.
Can music be a distraction, can it be bad for you work?
It’s a good question, since often time music can help us in different situations. Take the gym for example, where listening to music can pump you up.
How about relaxing? Listening to piano, to Beethoven, after a long, hard day can certainly calm you down. The best music to keep you calm, is a new genre called “chillstep”. The mellow, rhythmic beats can put you into a hypnotic trance. Your body will leave your mind like a dandelion seed being blown away, carried by the wind. This is your mind.
Music is a distraction from you.
Music is a distraction from your presence.
Think about it for a moment.
Someone’s voice is in your mind. It’s not yours. Their words take over your thoughts. You let them inside your head, inside your mind. How can you focus on a project, or accomplishing a goal, if you’re not in the present moment?
You can, but it’s much more difficult.
Humans aren’t meant to multitask anyway.
music is a distraction from you. The only time you can get to know yourself is with silence or ambient noise.
Stop and take a moment and think about what the world was like before smart phones.
I remember walking to and from grade school with only my thoughts in my back pocket and my surroundings in my heart. It was beautiful. There wasn’t any distractions like there are now, people had social skills, we weren’t alone.
Now, we’re always connected, with no connection.
It’s quite lonely in this new era of digital.
When all your friends, family, and lovers are online. Yet, you would give anything to feel the touch of another person. We all are craving connection, yet we run from it, we run from ourselves with distraction.
What To Listen To Instead
Instead of listening to music while in a work state, listen to ambient, continuous sounds.
What distracts us is constant changes in pitch, tone, and the words of another. When someone else is singing to you, directly inside your ears, it’s like they own your brain for a moment. For a single moment, you are afforded the luxury of zero thought. Sometimes, this can be a good thing-like while you’re at the gym, or doing meaningless tasks that don’t require mental energy.
When you’re trying to create, when you’re slaving away your precious energy to bring new light into the world through your art, you need to have total control of your mind.
Music takes that away from you.
10 Hour Video Game Tracks
When I was a young boy, i suffered abuse both mentally and physically. My parents did a fantastic job raising me. Sometimes, even with all the love in the world from your parents, the outside world comes in, and rips away all the love and happiness from your life like a tornado tearing down the foundations of your home.
So I turned to video games as a coping mechanism. The hurt boy inside me ran away, into virtual worlds to find a piece of happiness no one could take away from him. If only I knew to heal the boy and the man would appear. That habit continued into adulthood, even though I didn’t need video games anymore.
If you’re a grown man, you get to play the game of life. You don’t need video games, because you don’t need to run anymore. When you’re a child you have no control of your world, so it’s okay to run into a different one. As with everything you do, having discipline will solve 99% of your problems. If you decide to listen to video game tracks, make sure you don’t slowly open the door to playing them. Remember, video games are a waste of time.
Being an adult is different than being a child. If you aren’t happy with your situation, change it.
When I listen to the tracks it brings me a universal calm. It’s comfortable, and allows me to have a moment of peace. This helps when I’m studying new courses on Lynda. Naturally, I tend to be more aggressive, this gives me balance. I’ve found the soundtrack from the Nintendo 64 game, Zelda The Ocarina of Time to have the best ten hour tracks.
Video game ten hour tracks are fantastic for your productivity. Most of them are highly orchestrated, with a never-ending loop. There are no abrupt pauses, or changes in the rhythm. There aren’t any words being spoken, so your mind is free to peruse it’s own thoughts.
This will allow you to create better, since someone speaking to you while you create is like trying to have an important conversation with an audience, while you’re being nagged by another person.
You can find more ten hour tracks by searching in YouTube: “video game ten hours”. Or search for your favorite games that you played as a child.
Background ambiance is another solid choice to put in many hours in your work, studying, relaxation, or meditation. If you tend to study alone, or work alone, often times you can become lonely. Instead of putting in the time, you will want to go to a party, a coffee shop, hang out with friends.
All of these activities are distractions from your goal. Loneliness is real, but it’s tricking you to move away from your work. Why is this? Because work is hard.
Work is hard because it matters.
Your brain can try to protect you from working hard, in an effort to prevent the pain if you never succeed. If all you think about is succeeding, it won’t happen.
You can beat loneliness by listening to ambient noises that involve people in some way. Now, above I said that you don’t want lyrics or words in your tracks. This is still true. The track above, casino ambiance, has people communicating and murmuring, but it’s so faint in the background, it won’t break your concentration.
This is the entire focus of this post. Aggressive music, heavy lyrics, distractions will break your concentration.
Find what won’t break your concentration, and continue forward.
Single Track Playlists
Single track playlist work*.
*Still, lyrics or heavy bass changes can pull you out of your flow.
Above is one of my favorite songs when I run a single track playlist.
This song in particular has a powerful sound of an elephant war cry that particularly gets me energized. Since music does have an affect in your mood, be sure to adjust your single track to what mood will most help your work.
Oh, I was super serious about practicing and rudiments, and still am. I still have all my books.
This song may not be good for you if you need to be calm. In that case, ambient noise may work better for you. Single song playlists are better for when you need to get pumped up and invigorated. They work well in the morning to help you get out of bed and get going.
Ambient Noise Apps
Ambient noise apps are another way to introduce audio into your workflows. My phone is an Android Motorola Turbo 2, and the best ambient noise app I’ve found is called relax melodies(no affiliation). This application has a large selection of ambient noises from rainstorms & frogs, to dryer sounds and train-tracks, my favorite. If you have an iPhone, you should be able to find something of equal value.
This app is unique because it also allows you to combine sounds together, and even add in meditations, Isochronic tones, and binaural beats.
Remember, any change in rhythm will cause your brain to pay more attention to the song instead of your work.
There is no such thing as multi-tasking. There is being efficient & focused, or being less efficient and not focused.
What Does Music Gain For You?
If you aren’t creating music, nothing.
Music does nothing for you.
It’s entertainment if you consume it. Hence why rappers, singers, are entertainers.
Do gangster rappers actually roll through Compton blasting shots?
No, they live in Beverly Hills wearing cashmere sweaters and soft slippers.
Do country singers actually live in Alabama with a beat up old truck in a trailer?
No, they spend time in Malibu at spa’s getting their hands and nails done.
Entertainers tell you these sweet nothings because they want to entertain you. They are word warriors who’s job it is to please you with the noises and sounds they make. Real warriors, real success’s keep their mouths shut. They let their actions speak for themselves. They don’t need to hype themselves, their presence speaks for it’self.
How Can Music Be Used Then?
I’m still figuring it out myself. How do you listen to music that enhances your life? It depends on what can music be used for to improve your performance. This doesn’t mean how frantic can you work, but how efficient. You can listen to metal while reading, but I doubt it’s going to have a noticeable improvement on your work.
Some of you may even be able to listen to music just fine while you work. That could be the answer, but I’d challenge you to try listening to a ten hour track and see how your work may differ.
Best places for music:
- The gym. Metal specifically.
- The bedroom(wink wink).
- Anything with a rhythm or beat.
- While training mixed martial arts.
The important piece of this article, if you can take away anything from it at all, is you need to find your optimal performance. The way to find your optimal performance is experimenting.
You have no idea if you could be working a better way.
Like everything in the world, you need to find what works for you. You need to try listening to nothing, if you usually always listen to music. Try the opposite as well. Hell, try anything that you think could even have the smallest chance of working for you. This is how breakthroughs are created.