Joseph Mosby experiments with my trick of listening to a song on repeat to get work done, and digs a bit into the psychology behind it.

12 thoughts on “Psychology of a Small Playlist

  1. How do you pick a song? Do you try to use neutral songs that don’t have special meaning in your life? Are able to work, with music on, even when you have to read with full concentration?

  2. If I listen to a song too many times within a short time span, I tend to fixate on it, to the point of incorporating it into my dreams, and thinking about it even when I’m not listening to it.

  3. Interesting. I do something similar but with whole albums. Especially good with music in a language I can’t understand, or no singing — words grab your attention, music settles into the background.

    @Sudhir words are the killer of full concentration when reading, so avoid them, but they don’t seem to matter so much when writing code. I can happily code to Jurassic Five (I need a beat… a beat!) but need wordless or at least non-English when reading.

  4. I found video game music has a dramatic effect on my focus. The music itself was created to be heard while focusing on tasks so it makes sense to use it while working. I have a whole playlist of music that I play when I am trying to ‘get in the zone’

  5. Matt, you might like a service I use called Focus@Will:

    You can pick from a variety of music types, and each one has a small playlist that plays continuously for a set amount of time.

    The music is all hand-selected to (supposedly) limit your emotional reaction and improve your focus. They work with neuroscientists to pick the music. I don’t know much about the science, but FWIW, I use it every day and it’s done wonders for my productivity.

    1. I’ve been using that as well! I subscribed. There is also some good alpha music on Youtube as well, here’s one I’ve been using:

      1. I’ve honestly not tried the Alpha channels – generally stuck to Acoustic & Classical. Will give it a shot! Listening to 30 seconds of the video you posted made me feel like doing something productive *instantly* – no joke.