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Last post Author Topic: So, when you're working, do you...  (Read 5196 times)

timns

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So, when you're working, do you...
« on: December 29, 2010, 07:22:41 AM »
I just read a comment by Renegade saying he likes a bit of TV or movie to keep him company while he works.

Personally, I would find that wayyyy too distracting.

So my question to the forum would be: what sort of environment do you find most productive?

Personally, I very much like to have music on while I'm working - even quite loud in fact. But any sort of spoken word completely collapses my concentration, so no radio, just my mp3 collection.

I also like to have a couple of lamps switched on on my desk, with the rest of the room dim. But I am lucky to have a nice view, so I do take a screen break every now and then, to stare at the bay.

When I get home I'll post a picture of my setup since I think it would be interesting to compare how we all arrange ourselves. I might get some good ideas  :Thmbsup:

nudone

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2010, 07:32:28 AM »
i find that i can only listen to music if working on tasks that i'm familiar with.

anything requiring real concentration, i.e. problem solving, and i can't listen to anything - sometimes i need ear plugs to cut out the slightest sound.

Renegade

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2010, 08:27:24 AM »
I should probably clarify a bit there.

I put on movies and TV shows that I've already seen while I'm working. They're not new DVDs or anything. I've already seen them, and in many cases, more than once.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06E07 is a favorite as it's a musical, and probably one of the best TV shows of all time.

For music, I can't handle it on speaker. Too distracting. I put loud music on speaker for cleaning the house. For working, I need headphones.

Trance music or dance music or rave or whatever -- is usually best for me to work -- the consistency of dance music along with the (often) lack of lyrics lets me get "in the zone". Though other kinds of music are good except for rap -- rap I find distracting and only good for mindless tasks.

I think the type of music/video is important.

When I do audio software, it's obviously nothing except headphones and the software I'm working on.

But I'm curious to find out what other people's habits are.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

cranioscopical

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2010, 08:44:24 AM »
i find that i can only listen to music if working on tasks that i'm familiar with.

anything requiring real concentration, i.e. problem solving, and i can't listen to anything - sometimes i need ear plugs to cut out the slightest sound.

That's pretty much the same for me (has to be classical music when I'm working). The tougher the going, the quieter it must be. Random noises (dog barking, phones going etc.) don't count as they're filtered out automatically.

I prefer where I'm working to be well lit, probably because I need recourse to a fair amount of hard-copy reference material.

One dominant personal preference is to avoid work like the plague.

timns

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2010, 11:20:04 AM »

One dominant personal preference is to avoid work like the plague.

I avoid cliches like the plague

Stoic Joker

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 12:38:34 PM »
I like it quiet (save for the hum of many fans), and dark (or dimly lit). The older I get the harder it is to focus ... I have enough problems distracting myself with tangents.

wraith808

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2010, 12:57:59 PM »
I put on movies and TV shows that I've already seen while I'm working. They're not new DVDs or anything. I've already seen them, and in many cases, more than once.
This.  Background noise is what I term it.  It can still get distracting during the good scenes.  But in general, I've already seen it, so I can miss it with no harm.  This is also the reason why I don't use TV, but instead DVDs of movies or TV shows.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06E07 is a favorite as it's a musical, and probably one of the best TV shows of all time.
Nothing to do with the topic... but yes, I totally agree.

I've tried podcasts, and I find that too distracting.  It's new information.  It has to be something that has no real informational value.  And something a bit upbeat; if I get too relaxed, my attention wanders as I get sleepy.

Then there are those times that any sort of sound distracts me (and annoys me to no end).  I need some headphones that filter out noise for those times, I think, though I don't have any.

mouser

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 02:03:25 PM »
music i know well works for me.. i find lou reed to be excellent programming music.

in fact there was a thread on dc way back in February 2006 about what music is best to program to.

40hz

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 02:13:50 PM »
When I'm concentrating, I'm almost completely oblivious to whatever is going on around me. So as long as I can work someplace where I won't get stepped on, or run over, I'm fine.

Getting to the point where I can concentrate that deeply, however, is a little more challenging.

Most ambient noises don't other me. The notable exception is screaming or fussing children. Don't know if it's some latent maternal instinct - or just primate male cussedness - but any commotion involving or surrounding children jumps right to the front of my brain and stays there until it's resolved.

I'm perfectly happy with complete silence, or social ambient sounds. A quiet restaurant is probably my favorite setting. First, because you can get food and do a little flirting. Second, because I find the sound of muted conversation to be soothing and oddly stimulating to whatever muse I happen to be courting. Coffee shops are OK too except for the sound of milk being steamed for cappuccino. That sound is bloody annoying! Especially when you have baristas that either don't know what they're doing - or decide to make a career out of it.

Music does NOT work for me.

In common with many other pro and semi-pro musicians, I cannot simply listen to (or ignore) music when it's being played. I'll immediately start analyzing, evaluating, critiquing, and processing it. If I don't know the piece, I'll subconsciously try to learn it. If I do know it, I'll mentally play along - or even worse, start playing with it.

And while it's great fun to come up with new and interesting musical ideas ("Hey, I want to try doing that Gregorian Chant on bagpipes and baritone sax!" -or- "Did you ever notice how you can interweave Ravel's Bolero with Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic - and it works?") it doesn't help too much when you're trying to finish an essay on deadline.

Good lighting is important. My eyes, never that great to begin with, need all the help they can get. The important thing is it not be too bright because I'm very light sensitive.

Top quality ergonomic furniture is a plus I suppose. Wouldn't really know because I've never owned any. I have a 'good' desk and a 'good' chair. I'm happy with both. Although that may only be because I don't know any better. If I ever get clear enough to where I can comfortably blow a few grand on office furnishings I'll have to check it out. Or maybe not.

The occasional unexpected shoulder rub or cup of Earl Grey delivered by a pretty redhead (with bouncy little dog in tow) is also a welcome and very necessary addition to my work environment.

But that's a topic for a whole discussion by itself.  ;)  ;D

« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 02:18:08 PM by 40hz »

skwire

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2010, 02:48:45 PM »
Music for me.  Headphones, speakers and/or genre make no difference.  However, like 40hz mentioned, once my kids come home from school, their issues become my issues and need immediate resolution.   :P

Renegade

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2010, 05:57:17 PM »
Music does NOT work for me.

In common with many other pro and semi-pro musicians, I cannot simply listen to (or ignore) music when it's being played. I'll immediately start analyzing, evaluating, critiquing, and processing it. If I don't know the piece, I'll subconsciously try to learn it. If I do know it, I'll mentally play along - or even worse, start playing with it.

:) Which is why I find music that I already know very well, like Slayer, or dance/trance music to work very well. New music makes it difficult as I'm then trying to figure out chords and fingerings. I usually don't have the problem of mentally playing along, though it does happen. But I'm far from being pro or semi-pro -- happens to happy hobbyists as well.  :)

The repetition in dance music is enough to stop me from "playing along" as after a short period I get bored and can focus again. It breeds familiarity very quickly.

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

40hz

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2010, 06:19:14 PM »
But I'm far from being pro or semi-pro -- happens to happy hobbyists as well.  :)

OMG! The blight...it's spreading?  :tellme:

Quote
I usually don't have the problem of mentally playing along, though it does happen.

Once you reach semi-pro it will happen all the time.  :P

--------------------

 O.T. (Musician Joke)
Spoiler
Q: What do you call a bass player who doesn't have a girlfriend?

A: Homeless.

« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 06:22:51 PM by 40hz »

barney

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2010, 07:37:29 PM »
Mostly the [ambient?] light for me.  

As a myopic old cripple, comfortable seating is a physical non-sequitur, but adequate light in a reading area is an absolute necessity.  I'm ambivalent on auditory stimuli ... someone watching TV or playing music in another room seldom matters.  The maid vacuuming the floor is no bother, although I find I'm instantly attentive should some sound - like picking up a hairpin in the sweeper's brush - break the normal drone.  The sound of kids playing - some of 'em are adult kids - seldom bothers, unless there's that indescribable but instantly recognizable sound of trouble or pain.  Mind, I don't have 'em but some of my cohorts or students do.  

Due to physical limitations - bodies can be so-o-o uncooperative - I have to get up and walk away every half-hour or so, and that can be intrusive, but I've kinda learned to adjust my work flow, barring emergencies, around that.  So ... yeah, my big thing would be light ambiance/adequacy - I'm mostly oblivious to all else.

techidave

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2010, 08:57:32 PM »

Good lighting is important. My eyes, never that great to begin with, need all the help they can get. The important thing is it not be too bright because I'm very light sensitive.


I agree with 40hz, my eyes are light sensitive and I find it helps to have things a little dark.  It drives my wife crazy, because I don't like the door or window shades open especially on a bright day.

As far as the sound going on around me it doesn't matter all that much if I am really concentrating because I will just block it out.


app103

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2010, 01:31:08 AM »
When working, I need to be in an environment in which I am the only human presence. This means either everyone needs to not be home, or they need to be sleeping, and the music I listen to is usually void of human voices...but that's a personal preference and not related to working. I listen to post-rock music, mostly, but only because there is something about it that keeps me calm and less easily frustrated. Prime working time for me is normally between 3-7am.

It's not that I need an environment like that. It's other people that need me to work that way because they can't just leave me alone and amuse themselves with something that doesn't include me.

I am very capable of mentally blocking out any and all distractions, but when people are awake and home they will insist on breaking that and demanding my attention. They get upset when they don't get it or I am incapable of focusing on what they are saying for longer than 15 seconds because it's not related to the task I am performing. It's really hard for me to come out of full focus once I get into it, and I will mentally slip right out of an unrelated conversation, unintentionally, and not hear a word you are saying. Bother me while I am working and you'll swear I have ADD.

I had some serious focus and filtering training in school, when I was a child. My school burned down and for a few years we were all crammed into space donated by local churches in the neighborhood, multiple classes in a single room. The noise level was not what you'd find in a typical classroom, and in order to concentrate on what our class was doing, we had to learn to filter out the other classes. Instead of a nice quiet environment during tests, we had to focus on our tests while all kinds of noise surrounded us. We all had to learn how to block it out. And we had to filter out the voices of the other teachers and focus only on our own. It was a pretty harsh environment for learning, but we had no choice and had to learn to deal with it.

As a result, you can't talk to me when I am doing things...I just won't hear you. You have to be pretty loud and obnoxious to get my attention once I block everything out. And sometimes I am capable of carrying on an entire conversation unconsciously, with no memory of it having occurred, when I am focused on something else. (I handle Q&A quite well, this way)

Shades

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2010, 02:07:27 PM »

One dominant personal preference is to avoid work like the plague.

I avoid cliches like the plague

I avoid plagues that like cliches... :P

Ontopic:
Lighting is no problem for me, voices are (kid's voices are a real disaster for my concentration). Headphones are preferred when I do have to listen to music that I already know when people are talking in the same room as I am.

Utter silence is the environment that works best for me, but it is no problem for me if other people are in the same room that are not in my field of vision and are quiet.

Perry Mowbray

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2010, 02:01:03 AM »
Like 40hz, once in the zone, I'm almost uncontactable...

When I'm concentrating, I'm almost completely oblivious to whatever is going on around me. So as long as I can work someplace where I won't get stepped on, or run over, I'm fine.

I have had workmates tap me on the shoulder asking "Have you heard anything in our conversation the last 5 minutes?"

Though, horribly and to my disgrace, I get somewhat grumpy when those who know how to, get into my head with unrelated questions to the one I'm working on...

I do like music playing, but like many others, the tougher the problem the quieter the music (and correspondingly... the more successful the louder the music  :P )

kyrathaba

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2010, 02:03:29 PM »
I work best at my desk.  No music with words, although classical or anything low-volume without lyrics isn't distracting to me:

SANY0336.jpgSo, when you're working, do you...

40hz

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2010, 04:05:05 PM »
spencepenhandsgfairy002hands.gif

One thing I have been doing lately is stepping back from technology.

For about the last year I've noticed I'm more likely to reach for a notebook and pen rather than a keyboard when I have something requiring creativity or deep thought.

This wasn't something I consciously decided to do. In fact, I realized I had been doing it for about 6 months before I actually noticed myself doing it at all. Not to say I don't use my PCs any more. I use them extensively - and I shudder to think what my life would be like without the convenience and access to resources they provide.

But lately, I just seem to be vastly more productive and creative with a blank page rather than a blank screen staring back at me.

Anybody else in the same boat?  :)

« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 04:06:43 PM by 40hz »

cranioscopical

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2010, 05:18:36 PM »
Welcome to the fold!

fold.jpg

40hz

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2010, 05:21:59 PM »
^ That's just hunky dory with me!

cranioscopical

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2010, 10:36:10 PM »
^ That's just hunky dory with me!
I hope you get your just desserts — junket!

Renegade

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2010, 10:46:37 PM »
Anybody else in the same boat?  :)

For a very long time.

I regularly go for paper or print outs instead of staring at a screen. I'll print out 10 pages of code to mull over for a few minutes to help give me some clarity if I need.

Digital is not always a good substitute for physical.

Similarly, I like reading physical news papers rather than online. I like programming books rather than PDFs. etc. etc.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Edvard

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2011, 08:35:18 AM »
Ditto.
I've got printouts and notebooks FULL of electronic schematics I'm constantly referring to and tweaking before they ever go into the computer for simulation or design.

To answer the OP, when at home I simply enjoy the dull whine of the case fans.
Music is too distracting, until I'm at work where other people are often more distracting than the music.
Funny thing though, I talk to my immediate co-worker often throughout the day with no distractions at all.
I find him very pleasant to talk to and the conversation is often entertaining, intellectually stimulating, or both, so even when concentrating I don't mind low-level interaction.
Besides, because we do the same job, communication is often essential.
However, there's this OTHER guy...
 :-\

O.T.

;D

40hz

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Re: So, when you're working, do you...
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2011, 02:41:31 PM »
@Edvard - ROFLMAO!

Thx for the Eden link! :Thmbsup: