Music or Earplugs for productivity?

While I wrote my dissertation, and ever since, I've listened to music while writing papers. I find it helps me to tune out everything else and tune into my writing. The music becomes a cue for me to write, a way to tuck myself into the writing, regardless of what is happening around me. I hadn't even considered that the music may be distracting me, but of course, this is a possibility. My sense is that I need the music most at the very start of the writing process, because if I run out of songs before I finish writing, I don't seem to notice it right away, as I would expect to.

In any case, I'm going to try an experiment the next two weeks. I'll log the times and productivity level for writing with music vs. writing with earplugs, and post the results in my sidebar. Anyone care to make predictions on the results? Do you listen to music or use earplugs?


Anonymous said...

definitely music

You may want to check out Prof_like substance's related
post .

Notorious Ph.D. said...

My super-productive friend swore by earplugs -- it signaled the brain that it was time to turn inward.

GMP (GeekMommyProf) said...

Headphones! There's the inward aspect plus there is music. I swear by headphones, they got me through grad school.

undine said...

Listen to music--absolutely. Earplugs--no. Like you, I think the music is a cue that I'm supposed to be writing.

AliceAcademic said...

Anonymous, thanks for the link. I'll be following the rest of that series at Prof_like's place.

Notorious, thanks for the inspiration on the summer goals. I use earplugs to sleep because I have noisy neighbors, so I hope that doesn't work against them helping with productivity. Hope they don't induce sleep instead!?

GMP, I swear by headphones too, and your comment reminds me that I hadn't considered headphones vs. no headphones. I usually do use headphones, unless I'm at home, but I'll have to be consistent in using them the next couple of weeks.

Undine, I wonder if our sense of music as a writing cue has to do with that quality of music creating a setting (like how easy it is to remember where you first heard a piece of music, or how a certain piece transports you back somewhere instantly.) It seems qualitatively different from a cue like going into your office or sitting down at your desk. It feels more powerful, somehow. Definite researcher bias. I'm acknowledging it upfront.

Unbalanced Reaction said...

Headphones got me through grad school, but now I find music too distracting. I buy earplugs in bulk.

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