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Published on February 10th, 2013 | by Alan Cross


Dilbert Creator Scott Adams on Listening to Music While You Work

I try to listen to music while I work but it doesn’t work for me.  I need silence so I can concentrate and burn through everything that I need to do in a reasonable about of time.  It turns out that Scott Adams and I have the same problem.

One of the reasons I don’t listen to music throughout the day is that music changes my mood. Music is designed to manipulate your body chemistry and your mind. The songs that manipulate your emotions most effectively rise to the top and become hits. I don’t want music manipulating me in ways I haven’t planned.

The one situation in which I intentionally listen to music is when I exercise. That works great because I load my iPod with only the songs that energize me. The music puts my body immediately into exercise mode. I’m like Pavlov’s dog when I get to the gym; I’m not in the mood to exercise until I put in my headphones and hit play. Three notes later I’m totally in the mood.

The thing I try to avoid throughout the day is listening to random music that jerks my mood around until it doesn’t fit with whatever task is at hand. I don’t want to get pumped up before I try to sleep. I don’t want to hear a sad song before I try to work. I don’t want a song stuck in my head when I’m trying to solve a problem, and so on. The problem is not the music but the mismatch between the music and my activities.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker.

In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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