When I want to sit down and focus on a bit of coding I find having the right music helps me get in the zone more quickly. And it helps me stay there. Added benefits are that it can block out distractions and wearing a headset can also put people off physically interrupting me.
The music that I find works best has two key characteristics:
- Fairly fast tempo to keep me going
- Can be backgrounded by my mind (i.e. it's not a distraction)
I have been known to listen various "rock" albums from my youth on repeat; albums I know so well that singing along in my head doesn't distract from what I'm focusing on. Guns n' Roses, Metallica, Whitesnake, Faith No More and so on. I rarely notice anything new in these songs as I know them so well, but they tend to be fast-paced.
Repeat a single song
I've also found that having a single song on repeat can be a great way of focusing - you keep in the groove of that song and almost lose perspective of time. This is ideal if you want to be in the programming "flow".
Be warned that you will probably get sick of this song eventually. Or you may find that hearing it kicks you into thinking about work!
Beats to think to
Recently I discovered a playlist on Spotify called Beats To Think To. This has now become my default choice when settling in to a coding session. I've listened to it a lot over the last couple of months.
What works for you? Let me know and share it!