Over the years I have discovered that I either need complete silence to focus OR … surprise, surprise … hard pounding rock, mostly from the 70’s.
Music is a great focus tool for helping you focus, but you need to experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t.
If you work at home as many writers do, you can choose whatever you want and not have to worry about disturbing anyone. That is, unless you have 2 kids in bed and are working on your novel at 5AM in the morning. You pretty well can rest assured that not everyone will appreciate hearing your heavy pounding rock, even if it is what gets you focused.
Headphones may be required. I find the cover the ear headphones to be best, simply because the poke in your ear headphone start hurting after an hour or so.
It will probably not surprise you that the scientists have been studying the effects of music for decades. The good news is they have figured out how to use music to create intense FOCUS SESSIONS, music that will help you get to sleep easier and music that enables meditation.
They have identified specific types of music that help you with all three.
Take a look at brain.fm This is a site that matches music to whatever you are trying to do. Right now, I am listening to a rainfall soundtrack to help keep me focused on writing this article. Focusing ON the article means stopping myself from reading countless incoming emails (I get over 1000 a day). It also means NOT bouncing around looking at cool things on the Internet, often disguised as may favorite excuse … “research”.
Over the past month, I have found my “focus sessions” are getting deeper and deeper as I discover the different kinds of music or “white noise” that work for me. I have seen a remarkable increase in my ability to stay with the task at hand and to avoid my monkey mind that desperately wants to bounce away to check on other ideas and thoughts. My go to favorites have become the “rain” and “static” sound tracks. These are white noise sound tracks that block out background noises.
I cannot tell you what a relief it is, to know that in my two hour work sessions I will actually get work ACCOMPLISHED! In the past year, whole days could go by without any visible results.
Brain.fm offers a free trial. You get FIVE free sessions of up to two hours each. Give it a try and see what you think.
Here is a twitter testimonial from a happy writer.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that I also preferred absolute silence for focused writing. Depending on where you live, silence can be very elusive. I remember one day getting into a wonderful flow state of writing only to be jarred right out of it by a lawn mover starting up and droning away.
One evening a friend came over all excited about his new headphones. He was raving about fidelity and purity of sound, but the test he demonstrated to me was ambient sound blocking — pure silence. He sat right in front of me talking and I didn’t hear a word. I had NO idea there are headsets that have been engineered specifically for silence. The next day I went and got myself a set that has given me blissful sessions of silence for over ten years.
Check these out if you crave silence OR pure music fidelity.
You might be wondering why I am testing the music option if the headphones work so well. To make a long story short, I recently moved in with my 90 year old mother in order to help her out. IF I use the headphones I can’t hear her when she needs help. The white noise blocks out noises, but I can still hear her when necessary.
IF you are having challenges staying focused, music is one of the things you can try in order to increase your ability to concentrate and focus. Give Brain.fm a test run and be sure to get a good set of noise cancelling headphones.