Working vs. Writing and Keeping Focus

I can code to music, but I can’t write. I’m currently working on a series of posts about music streaming and I really can’t focus on my writing when music is running in the background. That’s interesting, because most of the time when working and coding I really need music to get rolling. Depending on my mood and what I need to do this can either be the hardest stuff I’m able to bear with, only electronic beats without lyrics or simply smooth classic piano (I even got into Jazz lately). I often need to switch between all possible genres to find out what works. When you’re pissed off, sometimes Metal is the right stuff, sometimes a bit of piano cools you down a bit.

Writing seems to be totally different for me. Music and writing somehow get in the way of each other. Sometimes when coding and listening to electronic stuff, the lines of code just drop out in sync with the beat. When writing normal texts – be it documentation or blog posts like this – music distracts me. I’m not able to come up with straight sentences and I need to correct so much more than usual. It’s like I can’t type correctly anymore when music is involved.

I started using an app called Focus1. This little tool blocks websites you put on a blacklist and even prevents certain apps you define from running while you want to stay focused. I block Tweetbot and Mail for example (and probably soon iTunes as well). You can set a time limit after which the focus mode is turned off automatically… If you’re a fan of the Pomodoro technique, this helps. It can also be scripted and integrated with other apps. There’s a lot in this small app and it really helps me stay focused and get stuff done. If you have a focus problem like I have, you really should give it a try!

The worst part is the beginning. Once I get rolling, everything is fine. But getting there really isn’t that easy sometimes. Little tools help, often music helps, but sometimes you just have to get going and get shit done.