Posted by: kurtsh | May 5, 2015

INFO: Maintaining focus w/ “Music to Code By”

imageTotally off topic, but it relates to a few posts I made 5-10 years ago. 

One of my interests is the study of “Infomania”, a syndrome described by Hewlett Packard Research in Cambridge as follows:

The abuse of “always-on” technology has led to a nationwide state of “Info-Mania” where UK
workers are literally addicted to checking email and text messages during meetings, in the evening and at weekends. Mobile technology offers massive productivity benefits when used responsibly, but inappropriate use can be negative

I’ve written about this a fair amount in the past 10 years:

The issue is that my mind tends to get easily distracted, flitting from task to another, just to satisfy an itch or an on-demand desire.  How one focuses their mind or at least gets their mind to stay “on track” has been a conundrum for me because our minds are trained to context switch constantly, whether it’s due to:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Email
  • Instant Messaging
  • Coworker interruptions
  • Notifications
  • Appointments

Our brains, after being conditioned to move from one context to another, very easily “dumps” what we were working on for something else.  This results in symptoms similar to short term memory loss & attention deficit disorder according to what I’ve read.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been trying something called “Music to Code By”, a set of 25min songs created by Carl Franklin explicitly created to raise one’s productivity.  (I’m listening to it right now as I type this post) 

The idea is simple:  By adhering to a set of rules in music, such as:

  • staying between 60-80 beats per minute
  • emphasizing harmony more than melody
  • eliminating distracting, attention grabbing runs
  • loops & phrase repetition for predictability
  • staying within 25 min increments
  • etc.

…one can listen to this type of music and find themselves able to slip into a “zone”, or what Carl and other programmers called “flow”.

“Flow” (or “getting into a zone” as sports athletes call it) is what keeps people locked into what they are doing and avoiding the common pitfalls of distractions and lost productivity.  In fact, Carl calls the album a “productivity tool” and not “music”.

This is not science fiction:  It’s backed by real research.  Here’s some of the very studies/articles that Franklin cites on his web site:

Here’s sample audio from the title, “Green”, which happens to be my favorite:

Now, if you like what you hear, and you’re interested in the other songs, check out Franklin’s site.  The album “Music to Code By” was actually a Kickstarter campaign that garnered him $10,000 to create the album and was essentially crowd-built, using the actual feedback of the hundreds of contributors as he created each song.


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