This Guilty, Crazy Secret Can Fuel Your Productivity
Part of any creative endeavor from brainstorming to marketing requires tuning everything out.
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You can do this in a couple of ways, such as using noise-canceling headphones or ambient noise machines, putting your phone on “Airplane Mode” or telling everyone to leave you alone.
The problem with these reductive techniques is that they leave everything a little empty.
In my experience, it’s not about quiet, it’s about finding your zone.
The most effective way I’ve found?
I listen to the same song over and over again. Loudly.
Melodic music, played on repeat, puts you in a heightened emotional state while simultaneously dulling your awareness to most of your surroundings. It puts you in a creative zone. The important facilities are turned on, while all the others are turned off.
The writer Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, The Blind Side, The Big Short) uses the same technique:
"I pull down the blinds. I put my headset on and play the same soundtrack of twenty songs over and over and I don’t hear them. It shuts everything else out. So I don’t hear myself as I’m writing and laughing and talking to myself. I’m not even aware I’m making noise. I’m having a physical reaction to a very engaging experience. It is not a detached process."
But can you accomplish this by listening to music like a normal person?
Short answer: no.
Repeating the same song or 2-3 songs allows the songs to fade into themselves – to become a more or less a continuous stream.
The reason I gravitate towards radio singles is that they normally have big, catchy choruses.
The idea is that after listening enough times, the song becomes a perpetual chorus.
All that’s left is the work at hand.