Working with headphones in

I know, I know, it was only a couple of posts ago I was moaning about how much I listen to music. And how, this constant beratement of music in my life: on my walks, during work hours, with God in quiet times etc etc, was slowly numbing me to the power of music. I’m aware this is a total 180 turnaround.

Maybe life isn’t as black or white as a single permanent solution.

So today, in my lunch break, I write to tell you that working from home with headphones in has really helped me focus on work and “get in the zone”.

When working from home, the default when listening to music, is to have it blasting out from my phone. But there’s something more focused about listening through headphones.

  • Better sound
  • Cuts off outside noise
  • Clear break from work, as well as a clear entering into work-mode.
  • Also, a lot of headphones these days allow you to pause/play the next song, without actually picking up your phone and getting distracted by personal e-mails/messages.

That’s it. If you’re struggling to focus working from home, try using headphones for your music.

Spotify or Apple Music?

I love music.

This last year I’ve been experimenting with Spotify and Apple Music subscriptions. I think, despite my love of Apple – Spotify have won this battle.

But as much as I love music, I think I’m stumbling into a realization. Music is best when it is fully appreciated. And we rarely fully appreciate something that is always there.

So I’ve stopped putting Spotify on in the background whilst I’m working, despite its: “music for concentration” playlists. And I no longer automatically opt for music accompaniment on my commute.

Working in silence, and walking with just my thoughts, is surprisingly refreshing. The experience is no longer hi-jacked by whatever emotion is induced by whatever song comes on. (True, I feel less like a badass when ‘gonna fly now’ doesn’t usher me into the office with Rocky.)

But then, when the moment comes to actually listen to music, there is a newfound respect, admiration and appreciation that comes along with.

For people who haven’t tried, I’d highly recommend, choosing to listen to no music for a whole day and then in the evening put on an album.

As the adage goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder

I wonder what else I’m experiencing in excess?

Paul

Tuesday Tools – Deep Work

Around January last year (according to my Goodreads account) I finished Cal Newport’s book: Deep Work. It’s a book that argues that we come up with the best ideas and most meaningful progress when we engage in focused, uninterrupted and undistracted work.

It claims that for “knowledge workers” deep work is becoming increasingly rare, with the deluge of immediate-response social media, attention-stealing technology and the demand to stay on top of e-mails and messages.

Since the ability to engage in deep work is rare, it is also becoming significantly valuable.

I jumped back into this audiobook during my exercise yesterday, to refresh my memory, and started with the beginning of Part 2.

In the chapter I listened to yesterday, he explained that we need to choose which “philosophy” fits our work best.

1. The Monastic Philosophy – this is where you take weeks and months apart from ordinary life to focus on deep work. He gave the example of an author going to a cabin in the woods for weeks to study. I think JK Rowling also did something similar when she wrote the last Harry Potter – checking into an expensive hotel for weeks until it was done!

2. The Bimodal Philosophy – this is where you take some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits of work. It could be Mondays and Tuesdays that you are “unreachable” and don’t answer the phone or e-mails. It could be using a week to focus on working deeply.

Suprisingly, most people will respect decisions to isolate for the sake of productivity at work, provided 1) the times of distance are well-advertised and well-defined and 2) you are available and able to complete other tasks the rest of the timme.

3. The Rhythmic Philosophy – This is where you set aside, say 90 minutes each day to pursue deep work. It is less about “getting away” and more about “setting apart” your time, consistently and habitually.

When it comes to implementing the Rhythmic Philosophy, you will find many of the tools for keeping up with other habits useful.

4. The Journalistic Philosophy – This is where you switch into deep work whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Cal Newport warns that this is the most difficult, and few people can actually do this well. However, for some this is the only option available.

I personally have found options 2 & 3 useful. When it comes to writing the book I’m working on, I have taken a week off at a time work to write. Waking up early and finishing late, just focused on the single task of writing the book.

However for my 9-5 job with Cancer Research, I tend to use the Rhythmic Philosophy. Setting aside portions of my day when I turn Teams, Skype Chat, E-mails off and simply focus on work that pushes my cognitive abilities to their limit.

If you are interested in finding out more about deep work, (this post only really covers one chapter of the book!) and want to get the book please use my affiliate link below to support this blog:

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Thanks for reading!