Work it harder, make it better, do it faster, makes us stronger!
More than ever, hour after, our work is never over!
Daft Punk – Discovery – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
I find that working with fun, catchy, and inspirational music playing in the background leads to me turning out work that’s easily two times less riddled with teensy little perfectionists’ horrors—those tiny flaws that only you and your instructors can ever seem to spot; the ones that you let go because you’re just too frustrated with the project at hand to bother avoiding or fixing them anymore. Many people prefer to work in silence to keep their focus, and that’s fine, but I have some very good reasons why a lot of the time, it’s better to work with music playing in the background instead.
An important thing to remember is that design feeds off of creativity and inspiration. There are certainly a lot of design concepts that can be taught and referenced out of a book—what the individual parts of letters are called, which colors have good contrast together, how to balance and align the bits and pieces of your design professionally, and other such things—but without the initial idea, no creation ever truly gets off the ground. There have been times where I’ve had an assignment to do for some creatively-oriented class or another, when I’ve been told to write a limerick for English class or draw a short comic for art class, and I’ve simply had no ideas. In other words, I’ve been without inspiration. And in most cases, if I turn to music, that inspiration will be with me in only a matter of moments, a song or two, maybe only a couple of verses. That one perfect lyric will jump out at you and flick the switch in your head—this is what I should do! Music is a valuable source for creativity fuel; it would be foolish never to turn to others’ vocals for inspiration. (Just be sure never to plagiarize! Nothing is ever truly, completely original, but that doesn’t mean you can blindly copy everything from a song, either.)
So, now you have your idea. Turn off the music so you can focus, right? Well, um, okay, if you really can’t focus with any background noise, go right ahead… But I strongly suggest you leave the music on. Why? Because one: it will continue to inspire you and help you develop your idea further; two: it will keep you from losing track of your original idea; and three: it will muffle out the sounds of any other potentially distracting noises around you—you can’t hear your roommate shuffling around and making noise in the kitchen nearly as clearly when Daft Punk is crooning sweet, sweet Digital Love into your ears. It also has the added bonus of warning people who know you, and know that you listen to music while working, that you’re busy and they should either warn you before coming in to talk with you, or just stay away altogether. If you’re working in silence, it could be assumed that you’re doing something that can be interrupted. For example, my sister has the bad habit of barging into my room unannounced and making declarations when I don’t have my ‘I’m working’ music on, but if I do, she generally leaves me alone—unless it’s really important, of course.
Listening to music is also useful for another couple of key reasons: it kills boredom and keeps your stress levels down. If you’re enjoying the music you have playing, you’re less likely to wander away from your project in search of something that can actually hold your interest for more than a few minutes. (I’ve done this. I forgot about the project for a couple of hours. It wasn’t fun.) And, if you’re enjoying the music, you’ll generally be happier, which means you’re less likely to get angry and mess up whatever it is that you’re working on—or mess up yourself, which would be even worse. If switching on the Homework album can help you keep a cool head and stay safe while you’re working on, well, your homework—definitely go for it!
Work hard, do things as well as you can, never slouch about and procrastinate on your work, and you’ll only be all the stronger for it creatively. You may have more and more assignments piling up, you may be toiling for hours on end, and it may feel like you’ll never, ever be finished with your work—but when you have music playing, it will most likely be quite a bit easier to handle. Take my word for it; I wrote this whole blog article while listening to music, and boy, am I glad I did! Find a musical genre that works for you creatively, and let’s see what you can produce while the notes are washing over you~.