Technology, a Tune, and the Gym
When I first joined a gym, music was delivered via a portable CD player and corded headphones. It wasn’t optimal as you had to be careful not to jostle the player or the CD would skip.
Over he years, I’ve evolved from the CD player to a variety of MP3 players, and finally to Pandora on my iPhone. Typically a little behind the times, I finally ditched the cord stuffed down my shirt and into the pocket with my phone and graduated to cordless Bluetooth headphones.
The first time I used them I asked myself “what took you so long?”. Not only is it easier to work out without having to worry about where the cord is hanging, but the sound quality and noise cancellation, even from an inexpensive set is light years beyond the standard set that comes with the phone.
Sure, I have to remember to charge the things, but my kleptomania cat, Pyewacket has made that easier. He can’t steal them if they’re plugged in. Granted, I’ve spoiled his fun a little, but he’s yet to run out of things to steal off my desk, dresser, and nightstand. He might have to be a bit more creative these days though.
Music for Focus
Music is and always has been a huge part of my life, though not so much making it as listening or moving to it. I typically have it playing in the background while I work. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing, editing, or doing accounting work. I need the music to keep me focused.
At the gym, it helps keep me focused, but also acts as a deterrent to other people there. With the plugs in my ears, they’re less likely to try and engage me in conversation. I know that sounds bitchy, but I consider my gym time to be much like my daily meditations and walks. It’s me time I don’t care to share with anyone.
What I mean is, I use my gym time to connect with myself. Maybe not in the same way as when I walk or meditate. While working out I have to pay attention to what machine or set of free weights I’m using, how many reps and sets I’ve done, and ensuring I’m using the right muscles. Sure, there are spaces of time between sets and when I switch stations, but often I use them to work on a piece of my writing.
Sometimes it’s a new blog post, others, it’s a tricky part in one of my books that didn’t want to flow properly. The combination of music in my ears and pushing my body to its limits is often a boost to my creative side, though don’t ask me why.
A Late Bloomer to the Value of Music
Unlike my daughters, I didn’t discover how much music could help me focus until I was an adult. Then again, I didn’t have all the options available today, or even in the last 20 years for taking my music with me. Even the days of the Walkman or portable CD player involved dragging a couple of CD’s or tapes with me unless I wanted to listen to the same thing over and over.
Once I was able to connect to a music site like Pandora or Spotify, it not only simplified how I obtained my music, but gave me variety that wasn’t available with a tape or CD, without having to download music onto my own device.
Ultimately I realized I worked better with music whether in my home office or someone else’s. I was fortunate to have a private office in my last job where I could play music through my computer as long as I kept the volume at a reasonable level.
Music for Productivity
It’s funny though. Now that I am in a home office where there’s no one around to disturb, I still find keeping the music at a low volume is most conducive to productivity. I’ve learned it isn’t really about the volume, or drowning anything out. It’s about having background noise so I can focus on what I need to do for longer stretches of time before getting twitchy and needing outside stimulus.
By the time my daughters came along with some of the same mental monkeys playing havoc with their concentration, I’d learned background music was the solution, and made sure they had access to it while they studied or worked.
As much as I hate housework, it’s a lot easier to get it done with Blood, Sweat, and Tears or Chicago playing in my ears and drowning out the vacuum! If it makes something I dislike doing tolerable, imagine what it’s doing for the ones I love to do. I know my writing sessions are longer with music playing in the background. I can stay put long enough to set up a month’s worth of Medium posts, bopping along to the Beatles, or another band from the 60’s and 70’s.
The Right Background Music for the Task at Hand
You might think it’s nostalgia that caused me to set up both a “Blood, Sweat and Tears” station and a “Simon and Garfunkel” station on my Pandora account. The truth is, their music continues to inspire and uplift me today. Perhaps it’s the poetry in the lyrics, or the way you can hear each instrument and voice adding it’s piece to the song.
Perhaps it’s words I can relate to. But I don’t try to analyze or explain it beyond saying I like what I like.
What I know for sure is having the tunes playing in my ears is responsible for keeping me going to the gym 3 times a week, for helping me schedule a month’s worth of posts on Medium in advance, and for days when I write 2 blog posts, or several thousand words on one of my books. It clearly works for me, so I’m not about to mess with a good thing.
A Word for the Ones Who Prefer Silence
I’m aware some people work best in complete silence, and I respect that. We are, after all, unique unto ourselves. I can say working in complete silence, except on rare occasions drives me bonkers. In fact, when it is completely silent in my office, I’m usually talking a blue streak to myself or the cats, just to break the silence.
There is one place I’ve found I work best without music, but if I’m honest, there’s music, just not from a mechanical or electronic source. Every morning, I take about a 20-minute walk. I leave my headphones home, and though I carry my phone in case of emergency, it remains in my pocket, a silent weight reminding me I can get help if I need it (though thankfully, it’s unlikely).
Sounds of the Neighborhood are Their Own Music
Instead, I have either the cacophony of my own thoughts keeping me company, or better still, birdsong. There’s also the whoosh and whirr of people in their cars heading for work, school, or errands when I’m walking along one of the main streets, and the barking of the neighbors’ dogs as they announce the presence of someone disturbing their morning nap, or alerting their owner to a possible intruder.
Occasionally, I’ll encounter other people enjoying the quiet time in the morning when most people have already gone off to work or school. The heat of the day hasn’t yet driven them inside but it’s early for kids to be running around in the park, their laughter a cheerful counterpoint to the chirping and barking.
I love listening to the sounds of the day in the few minutes I’m out walking. I’ve even made a game of trying to get out early enough so I’ll be through the park before a train blasts through, wheels clacking on the rails and whistle piercing the air to warn people to keep the intersection clear while it passes. Even this is me time when I’m free to think my thoughts or not, move my body and get it primed for the day ahead, and practice “Being” instead of “Doing”.
Your Turn to Weigh In
What works for you when you’re diving into the day’s tasks? Do you get the chores out of the way first so you can do the things you later? Do you mix them up? Do you work in silence or does music play a major part in your productivity? If so, do you like it loud and raucous? Soft and dreamy? Jazzy? A mix? How do you get your engine primed and operating at peak performance? You are unique, so what works for you should be as well. Please share in the comments.
Gratitude Infiltrates Everything I Do
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for music (guess that one would be obvious from the post), and how delivery has become simpler over the years.
- I’m grateful for me time when I can do or not, but mostly be.
- I’m grateful for the technology that gives me choices, variety, and simplification.
- I’m grateful for the productivity I enjoy when I have music to motivate me.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, productivity, joy, friendship, dancing, kitty love, a stress-free life, music, incentives, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward