A while ago, I wrote a post about where I liked to do academic work. Generally, I work in one of three places, listed in order of frequency:
1. On the sofa in my study at home
2. In a cafe
3. On a train (if I happen to be going somewhere. I don’t just take trains to get work done, although the thought has crossed my mind)
But for me, there’s more to it than just physical location. There’s sound. In the previous post, I mentioned that I didn’t like an oppressively quiet atmosphere (although incredibly loud environments aren’t great either). If I’m on the train or in a cafe, I will often listen to music.
At home, on the sofa, it’s more varied. Sometimes I’ll listen to music. More often I’ll have some sort of TV show or film playing on a separate screen.
This really works for me. It has done since I was a child. My parents could never quite believe that watching episodes of Friends or Disney films was conducive to getting work done, but it was, and still is.
I don’t think it works for everyone. But I do think it’ll work for some people, and it’s the kind of thing that’s very flexible. Here’s what works for me:
1. I tend to either choose something I know very well (and like), or something that doesn’t require much attention.
2. I make decisions based on what I’m doing. I have different items for:
– Reading articles on my iPad (early Grey’s Anatomy episodes)
– Writing (Pokemon episodes)
– Really difficult writing (About a Boy soundtrack)
– Anything nearish Christmas (Love Actually)
– Data analysis (Bones)
– Urgent things (Inception soundtrack)
3. This one is subconscious, but I have noticed that I generally choose things where you don’t miss out by only listening. I tend to pay more attention with my ears than my eyes, and will usually listen to a TV show or film more than watch it. This lends itself well to “watching” media while working.
Why does this work for me? Honestly, I’m not sure. But I think that a lot of it is about emotion. I’ve chosen media that evokes emotions for me, based on what I need to get done.
Grey’s Anatomy is something I associate with good, relaxed times. I like the music, and I’ve seen the early episodes quite a few times, so it’s easy to keep in the background while I’m ready. It’s probably too emotional to have on while I’m writing, though. Love Actually is similar, without the dramatic plot twists.
The About a Boy soundtrack comes with relaxed, positive emotions for me, but with no plot to follow, it’s ideal for when I really need to focus.
Pokemon is very adventure-based, but it doesn’t require a huge amount of attention. It works well for morning writing, because it’s peppy and promotes the idea that you can do anything.
Bones and Inception make me feel like what I’m doing is of incredibly importance, and may change the world.
Do you listen to media when you’re working? I’ve asked this question to a number of friends, and responses have been divided. The most common is “oh, no, I just couldn’t concentrate like that!”. What do you think?