What's the soundtrack of your business?


In my last post, I asked you to consider “turning down the noise” in your business so you could make some space for creativity, growth, awareness. If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Then what the hell am I going to listen to?” I, too, rely on that noise to keep me comfortable, distracted, busy.

And though I’m not trying to be super-literal here, it was an interesting coincidence that in the middle of thinking about all of this stuff I heard an interview with Don Campbell about his new book (written with Alex Doman), Healing at the Speed of Sound. In the book, Campbell, who wrote the groundbreaking (and, ultimately, controversial) The Mozart Effect, puts forth the theory that by "using" music and silence, you can become more efficient, productive, relaxed, and healthy.

Um, yeah. Sign me up for that.

I realized after hearing the interview how little I actually listen to music these days. When the iPal is on in the kitchen, it’s tuned to public radio. When I hike each morning, I listen to Howard Stern. Sometimes in the evening, I’ll put on Pandora and have a dance party in the living room with my four-year-old daughter, but “Let's Get It Started” isn’t exactly listening music for me.

During the day, I listen to my ever-spinning brain, filling it up on 30-second snippets of noise from the internet in between bouts of writing. Now it’s not to say that everything I listen to is noise and junk. It’s just that I haven’t been very mindful about what I’ve been listening to.

I thought I’d do an experiment to see if Campbell’s theory is right. I downloaded the “Focus & Vitality” soundtrack that he put together to accompany his book. The sales copy for it says that it will “sharpen your mental abilities by stimulating your brain through specially chosen frequencies, tempos, and musical structure.“

So every day for the last week, I’ve listened to it through my headphones off-and-on during my workday. It’s mostly classical music—though no composers are mentioned, so it must be original?—with a bit of new age-y stuff tucked in at the end.

I’ve probably listened to the whole thing about a dozen times since the experiment started, and I have to report that it makes a difference. I don’t know how much I can attribute to Campbell’s music specifically, but I do feel that having something lovely playing through my headphones keeps me focused on the matter at hand rather than feeling the need to skitter off and go look at whatever amazing video someone’s just tweeted about or read another Top Ten Ways to Transform Your Business in a Week!!!!!! post that someone’s just tweeted about or, basically, lurk around on Twitter at all.

I’m very happy doing things like, well, writing this post for the Story House blog. I've been promising myself I needed to post more regularly for a long time, and lo and behold, after listening to the soundtrack, I’ve written two in two weeks.

Now I’m branching out. Have loaded up the Symphonic Classical Period Radio station over on Pandora, though it seems that some of the less allegro-y pieces don’t have quite the same “focus & vitality” effect. I’m hoping to create my own Story House soundtrack that will be kind of like the green smoothies I’ve started making every morning—energizing and good for you.

So a question: What do you listen to when you're being your most productive?