Looking for a way to improve your concentration and get more work done? This is certainly something that most of us could benefit from!
Here’s a quick trick that has worked for me and that has also reportedly worked for WordPress inventor Matt Mullenweg.
The idea is to completely shut out outside distractions and this technique might just be one of the best methods there is.
So What’s the Trick?
Simply put, the trick is to listen to music. But rather than just creating a long Spotify playlist, you’re instead going to take a short album or even a single track and then just put it on repeat. That might sound overly simplistic at first and perhaps you’re unsure as to whether it can really make much difference. My only comeback? Just try it. If it works for you then great, if it doesn’t – no harm done.
Suffice to say though, that many people report that this helps them to get into more of a productive ‘flow state’ and there’s actually a good, scientific reason as to why this might be the case.
Specifically, this is due to something called ‘habituation’.
What Is Habituation
Habituation is a psychological phenomenon in which something that we’re exposed to over a prolonged period eventually stops standing out and fades into the background. The example of this that most of us are most familiar with is the ticking clock. Chances are that there is a ticking clock in your room right now – but you probably didn’t hear it (until just now) because you’re habituated.
Your brain wants you to focus on only the most pertinent and relevant thing in your environment. It’s not interested in giving you the most complete or most honest/realistic picture of what’s going on around you. All it’s interested in is keeping you safe. And to that end, there’s no point in you focusing on any repetitive noises or sights that clearly pose no threat.
After a while, repetitive sound fades into the background and you become almost ‘deaf’ to it. And if you’ve got headphones on and you’re staring right at your computer screen, this then means you now have no other distractions. No other sites or sounds are getting in other than your work – it’s almost like a sensory deprivation chamber.
On the other hand, listening to new tracks, or even lists of tracks you know, is likely to make your brain unconsciously register moments of recognition, passages that you particularly enjoy, or discords and noises that seem to stand out.
What About White Noise?
Obviously you can always use white noise instead – or better yet, something like ‘Coffitivity’ which is an app that replaced white noise with background chatter. Personally, I find this much too clinical and sterile and that is actually detrimental to my productivity.
For me? Randomly my album of choice is Angry Birds: Transformers by synthesizer maestro Vince DiCola.