Categories
Music Productivity & Work Writing

Want to focus? Seek ambient sound

One of the greatest myths of our time is that silence is golden. But complete silence will keep you from working effectively. It may even put you to sleep.

J. K. Rowling left the solitude of her own home to write the Harry Potter series in a coffee shop amid the cacophony of people chatting over grinding espresso machines.

The noisy environment inspired her to get to work. Studies show that just enough sound creates an ambient environment conducive to working by drowning out any other unpredictable racket in the background.

By the way, if you’re looking for scientifically optimized music to help you focus, you must give the app Focus@Will a try. Use my affiliate link and you’ll get two FREE weeks.

The power of music

Studies also show that learning to play an instrument makes it easier for children to learn how to read. Additionally, the “Mozart Effect” is said to improve concentration and study habits. Surgeons often use popular music during operations to relax both the patient and themselves. Muzak takes the awkward silence out of the elevator.

The right type of noise is critical to working effectively. In fact, many CEOs expect disruptions in the form of email and calls to ensure the business is actively operating. Silence is the antithesis of productivity.

In order to stay motivated and remain productive, we need perpetual sound rather than peace and quiet. Sound is productive. Rather, it is the silence between the notes that can be the most disruptive.

Categories
Apps Music Productivity & Work

The best music to help you focus

This post contains affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info.

Music is a performance-enhancement drug. There’s a reason athletes listen to songs on repeat to pump them up before games. But music’s effect on studying, writing, or doing office work is equally profound.

Music is known to increase your productivity by sharpening your focus and putting your brain into a flow state. However, it takes the right type of sound to help get concentrate on your studies and work.

A gif of a record spinning with a brain on the vinyl

Always do your best work

Focus@Will offers over 20 channels and thousands of hours of music that are scientifically optimized to help you focus and get stuff done.

Seriously, the app has some serious studies to prove it.

“We ask our users to rate their productivity during each session, and we’ve found that the average productivity in a one-hour focus@will session is 75% – this is far above the productivity most people report in an hour without focus@will.”

I use the Uptempo channel at work when I need to filter out distractions and help push me through reading hundreds of emails. However, I turn on the Ambient playlist with medium intensity when I want to get into a contemplative state to journal or blog.

You’ll be amazed at how a little hum of music can make you more productive. I’m listening to the Cafe Focus channel now as I type this post!

Pick your focus channel to hear a sample

Music = neurological focus power

“Music is part of being human,” Oliver Sacks wrote in Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. And the right music, customized to supercharge your happy work creativity, can make a huge difference in your workday!

I recommend that you give Focus@Will a try on the computer first since it seems to work best when you can toggle between focus channels to find one that fits your work habits. But the complimentary app works just as well.

You can sign up to Focus@Will today and get two free weeks. If you see the increased focus you’re looking for, I suggest leveling up with the annual subscription since it’s ultimately cheaper than month-to-month.

So get stuff done while making better use of your time. Reduce your distractions. Be more creative. Always do your best work. And give your mind the boost it needs.

Get focused, today.

gif by @leonnikoo

Categories
Music Productivity & Work

The music in our heads

The brain is an unfettered motor.

One of the best ways to quiet the monkey mind is by listening to music.

Music helps people get out of their own heads. When listening to music, people not only relax but they feel obliged to take more risks. Music galvanizes humans into an unconscious zone of action.

Athletes pre-game to music to drown out distractions so they can mentally focus on the game. Listening to sound can help you run more, focus better, and put one in a zone of cognitive flow.

Artists listen to music to help them plunge inside their consciousness. Instrumentals turn the mind into a conqueror of thought, not just a tourist.

In such a way, sound is a magical elixir of auditory drunkenness. It helps remove hesitancy by turning off the resistance to our surroundings. Music quiets the amygdala so we can dance with fear.

Everything is mental. But music turns off the brain. We listen to music to tame the chorus of thought in our heads.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Music Tech

Stuck in our own heads — is that such a bad thing?

gif by @jeremysengly

If we remove the music at a fashion show it’d feel dull. No one wants to face the nakedness of noise.

If we put a person in a room with only a shock machine studies show that they’d rather zap themselves to stay bored.

Humans crave entertainment. Social media is today’s main elixir.

We’re wired to dress up our environments with extra toppings, be they sounds or physical stimulants. When the sparks are absent, we have nothing left but the music of inner monologue playing between our ears.

While most people will do anything to avoid getting stuck in their own heads too long, the black hole of cognition is vital. Emptiness spawns the most august imagination.

The pain of thinking begets a pleasure of creative output. The fluff of ideas and self-discovery emerge from the magic lanterns of our brains.

Categories
Arts Music Video

The illusion of a sole genius

midsection of man holding hands over white background

Upon winning the MacArthur Fellow award for creating unconventional, immersive opera experiences, Yuval Sharon didn’t feel like he was a ‘genius’ in any sense of the word.

The fellowship is also known as “the genius grant” although the organization steers clear of using the term in its to describe MacArthur Fellows ““because it connotes a singular characteristic of intellectual prowess.” Yuval Sharon felt the same way.

In his LA Review op-ed, he elaborates:

The Foundation probably takes pains to say this because so many people find something deeply uncomfortable about the concept of “genius” — its exclusionary implications and air of elitism; a Romanticism that seems out of step with contemporary (let alone everyday) life; the affirmation of canonical standards set by … who exactly? Any person mature enough to strive for self-awareness finds the moniker embarrassing, and only an unstable narcissist could ever self-apply the title without shame.

Perhaps there are only a few true geniuses: Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, and most recently, Steve Jobs. The author Walter Isaacson has written biographies on all three.

But no genius is truly original, as Brian Eno alludes to. A genius is merely part of what he calls a ‘scenius,’ a community of fellow artists who share similar interests and collaborate, helping prop up the most notable. Says Yuval:

Moments, ideas, a single poem in a collection — a work of genius, no matter how individually wrought — is never the product of a single individual. We should stop thinking of genius as an attribute and instead start to think of it as a condition, a circumstance.

Genius is social and participatory

This notion of a sole genius reduces the collective nature of people. The world participates in the process of creation no matter how one artist tries to individuate their craft. Yuval sums it up nicely:

I spent part of the day reading about the other Fellows in my class and found myself feeling so inspired by their dedication and accomplishments in fields far removed from my own. The world seemed bigger. This may be where the “genius” moniker is still useful: by calling out examples of how and where the endlessly searching attendant spirit still visits the world. Because anyone, anywhere, can participate in it.

Categories
Culture world

Clash of civilizations

America and Western Europe have stagnated while China dives into its newfound riches.

Ethnic nationalism is on the rise while the liberal globalist elite does nothing to stem the tide, too occupied in complaining about the ‘deplorables’ on their devices while ordering more wine from Amazon and posting selfies on Instagram.

The myth that no two countries with McDonald’s refuse to fight each other appears to be just that. Realism is back, manifesting itself through the whims of protectionism.

Are we doomed to conflict?

Not necessarily. It is in these moments that pessimism and inventiveness coexist.

Wrote British historian Thomas Babington Macauley in 1830:

“We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason . . . On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”

We can get out of this rut. Doom and gloom is the end all for worrying times. Tribalism can be cured, as can the negative aspects of nationalism.

There is a good side to bad problems that expose a weakness in the international order. But instead of whining in our own filter bubbles, we can use the moment to cushion against discontent.