Productivity is one of the keys to being able to accomplish your goals. Productivity, however, is not just about getting more things done but getting more of the right things done. That is the core reason for writing TechTips. My goal with each issue is to provide you with tips, tools, platforms, ideas, and techniques that will help you get more of the right things done.
I have been thinking a lot about how our digital world is causing us to be more distracted than ever. Distraction prevents me (us?) from the deep work we need to do to make an impact on our world. If you want to read more about this than Cal Newport’s book Deep Work is worth reading.
I have found that one of the ways I can concentrate for more extended periods of time is to have background music playing.
One tool I have been using for several years is a website service called Focus@Will. This service plays background music designed to help you focus and concentrate.
Focus@Will: More Than Just Streaming Music
However, Focus@Will is much more than just a streaming music service. You see, there is quite a bit of science behind what type of music you should be played. This service dissects the science to help you be as productive as possible. You can read more about the science behind the music here.
The problem with being able to concentrate is that our senses are constantly inundated with information. The light streaming in the windows, the sight of people passing by on the street, the smells of a cafe, the sounds of conversations, and the pressure of the hardwood table on your elbows.
Each time you notice something in your environment, you are paying attention to it. The ability to focus your attention on something while ignoring competing stimuli is called selective attention by psychologists, and we would never get anything done without it.
Can you imagine how distracting it would be to notice every little detail in your environment, at all times?
Doesn’t it seem funny that although cafes are full of noises of all sorts, many people (including myself) find it easier to work in the loud cafe than a quiet library? Some theorists say this phenomenon is the result of cognitive load; your brain only has so much processing power for any given sensory modality at a time.
The overloading of your auditory senses with stimuli results in a process wherein over a short period, usually about 20 minutes or so, you get used to the noise. This process is called habituation, and because of it, you can free up your mind for the task at hand.
You will probably still notice when something unexpected pops up, but the neurons in your brain responsible for helping you sense the stuff in your environment quiet down and let you focus. This is also what happens within your mind when you are at a cocktail party and try to listen selectively to one person instead of the sounds of the entire room.
So, it seems part of the trick is occupying your brain enough to let you work. In this vein, it has been shown that listening to music while you work can do the trick.
Focus@Will creates a selection of music that is “tuned” to help you get to a productive state of mind quickly and help you stay in that state for as long as possible. And not everyone works best with the same type of music. Focus@Will has a productivity tuner that will help you pick the best music for your personality. You can take the quiz here.
Focus@Will offers a limited 2-week free trial so you can check it out. The paid service is $9.95 per month for an individual user with multi-year and lifetime subscription available. There is also a Teams version available used by organizations.
You can sign up here for a free trial. This link will also give you a $20 credit toward any paid plan. I will also receive a $20 credit on my account. Good for both of us.
Listening to the right music does help me get more of the right things done. What tools do you use to maximize your productivity?