Listening to music or NPR-esque talk radio while working is almost as hard for me as watching TV while cramming for an exam. It’s not productive and in no way helps me focus. However, there are those days, mostly Fridays, when I just have to tune in to my Aya or Mark Farina stations on Pandora, turn the music down low, and mellow while I work.
For the most part, I can accomplish a good deal of writing this way because the music is in the background. It’s white noise that I’m capable of ignoring but not ignoring if you can understand that. And it’s easier when Pandora plays things I haven’t heard before and when I can’t predict the track listing. Same thing with my Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs station. I know very little of the artists played on that station. Hell, I’m just starting to get into TV on the Radio and Vampire Weekend.
There’s no way I could listen to Stevie Wonder or THE ROOTS and expect to get more than five words on the page. They crowd everything out of my brain—isn’t that what Stevie and THE ROOTS are meant to do—and I’m too busy singing along (badly) to “If You Really Love Me”. It’s a different story if I’m designing. Right about then, I can use a little Game Theory to get me going.
Classical music played on public radio used to be good for writing tasks, but sometimes the stations break into that demonic chamber choir reminscent of The Omen (nah, I won’t be posting that YouTube video). I’m way too easily scared and my imagination goes berserk when I hear stuff like that, so I’m not doing it. Tempestuous classical music that sounds like the pianist is sparring with his keyboard instead of tickling it doesn’t help me much either.
What say you readers? Do you whistle some Weezy while you work? A little Green Day? How ’bout some Sugarland or Phyllis Hyman?