The Freelance Life

Whistle While You Work

Apples at Farmer's Market by Mr. T in DC

How many of us listen to the radio, Pandora, Last.fm or our MP3 player of choice while working on our projects? At times, music can be a distraction if you’re trying to create. But more often than not, it’s a powerful motivator, turning the most mundane tasks of our day into a flurry of movement that quickly fades from memory.

I have the pleasure of writing promotions and reviews of music events and the artists who fill my iTunes, but you don’t have to be a critic to learn what melodies will help you get through your day. I’m the first to admit that when I need to knock out a 1200-word article, music can be more of a hindrance than a godsend. Stopping every 30 seconds to sing along to the chorus of “Born This Way” is not the best way to approach a deadline. However, I think most of us would agree that music is a boon that not only helps us get through dull tasks like paying bills and washing dishes, but it also spurs our creativity.

David Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, suggests that listening to music may be just as effective in stimulating your mind as composing or singing the original piece itself. Studies show that nothing fires up the brain’s multiple receptors the way music can. And when we sing, hum, rap, whistle, beat box or scat along, our brains shift into turbo drive in the hypo-
thalamus,
insula, and orbitofrontal cortex. This in turn gets our creative gears revving, opening the door to those fantastic ideas just perched at the edge of our imaginations.

How many times have you hit a wall or mental block that disrupts your creative flow? Next time it happens, don’t just turn on your stereo and listen to the music. I say let it all out and sing along!

Personally, I’ve created a playlist specifically to help me through my working process. Sometimes it makes me want to dance in my seat, sing out to the highest embarrassing note or quietly sit still and let the rhythm wash over me. But it’s also composed of songs that get my adrenaline going without leaving me fighting the urge to get up and ignore my workload altogether. Yes, it was a tricky one to put together, but it works wonders.

My playlist includes a little of every music genre I love. Here’s just a taste of 25 songs on that list set to random:

What’s on your work playlist? Share a few of your favorites in the comments. I might want to add them to my collection. ;-)

Image credit: Apples at Farmer's Market by Mr. T in DC

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