Some people need absolute silence to be productive, while others need lots of activity. You likely know where you fall in this spectrum, but if you’re interested in determining where your personality lies you may want to check out The Myers & Briggs Foundation, where you can learn more about the famous (and widely used) personality test.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I know I’m more productive sans distraction, but I also crave some kind of stimulation (unless I’m in a Flow state). This means I have to be very careful about what external stimulation I have going on while trying to be productive.
TV, movies, talk radio, music sung in English are all out. These things pull me away from my work. However, some instrumental music (particularly the work of Pablo Casals and Glenn Gould) seems to work fairly well.
Yet, sometimes I want to hear some singing, and – as I mentioned – it can’t be in English, as my ear will be drawn to the lyrics rather than what I’m working on.
I’ve recently found that much of the work of the brilliant Bebel Gilberto fits the bill nicely.
While some of her songs are sung in English, the majority are not. Ms. Gilberto, whose father, JoÃ£o Gilberto is one of the creators of Bossa Nova, is a wonderful writer, arranger and interpreter of popular Brazilian music.
While her work is rooted in the Bossa Nova tradition, she utilizes a significant amount of other textures in her work; including really well leveraged electronica, which is most prominent on her album Tanto Temop.
It is, in fact, this record that I find most conducive to productivity. It’s not background music, but rather energizing music, which propels me to keep focused on my task at hand while another part of my brain is being entertained, but not distracted.
Check out Bebel Gilberto’s Samba da BenÃ§Ã£o, and get some work done in a most enjoyable fashion:
bebel gilberto samba de bencao