Pings in the background

In the office I work from in Tokyo, there’s always background music playing, just at the edge of your consciousness.

It’s never loud enough to interfere with conversation or work, but enough so it’s always floating there in the mists of corporateland.

Usually it’s fairly innocuous Japanese house – like Mondo Grosso and generic variants thereof – but always on the smooth side.

I’m not sure if they’ve been reading studies on it increasing productivity, or whether they just want their office to have that lively feel, but it does really seem to help get in the zone.

I will say that for one thing it does give those background cycles that usually clog up the flow a place to latch onto, and gets them out of the way so the rest of your consciousness can be more focused on whatever the current corporate goal is.

I’ve definitely found that for some tasks, having something to groove to can make a huge difference in limiting distractions. True, the music itself takes a certain amount of attention, but I know I’ve gotten far less fidgety and flighty when it’s there to keep me centered.

Alot of this for me also depends on whether the material in question is spastic and filled with other distractions, or is a continuous experience. Continuous DJ mixes are great, as are albums, that stick to a theme. However if it’s something that jumps around between different tones, tempos, and moods, it starts to bring the distractions back instead of minimizing. Shuffling songs is bad this way, but the worst is modern EDM netcast shows.

While they make great listens when you want to be distracted, having a shoutout between every song just is not conducive to concentration. No love lost for the format, just can’t work with it.

What’s this like for others out there? Are folks able to concentrate on work no matter what the material?