Music, Multitasking and Me

I’m a strange guy when it comes to multitasking. Some tasks, such as web page development (writing PHP and HTML) are kind of mindless tasks for me so I can work with a lot of things going on at the same time, while others require my full, focused attention. I’m really kind of a schizophrenic web designer. Sometimes, I’ll be checking email, scanning twitter, posting on Facebook, eating dinner, uploading images to a server, text-messaging my wife AND watching a YouTube video of a presentation from some tech conference all at the same time. And I can fly through my work with ease.

Yet when it comes time for me to actually respond to an email or write some copy for a web page, I morph into Mr. Serious. The music is paused, the videos are turned off, and I’ll concentrate only on what I’m writing. Usually, I’ll read aloud the words as I type them. Then as soon as the intense-focus task has been completed, I press the play button again on my internet radio, and I’m back into the loud, chaotic, frenzied groove  I call work. It would probably sounds hysterical for anyone sitting outside my office door… with all my loud music that comes to a stop at random intervals, occasional outbursts of talking to myself for a minute or two, then right back to the music… you’d wonder what all the start-stop-start-stop is all about, and who I was talking to.

As far as music goes, I’ve found there are a few bands in particular that work really well for keeping me awake and alert while working, yet at the same time don’t distract me. Here are a few that I really like to crank, especially late at night much to the frustration of my wife and the kids that are probably trying to sleep):



Sade Jeff Beck MxPx
Cake Journey Rush
Tom Waits Judas Priest Dusty Springfield



I really haven’t found a common thread here yet, but these are my standbys. It seems to be that the later it gets into the night, the louder and faster the music can get. It’s actually kind of helpful. And yet, for some reason, there are a few specific musicians I just can’t listen to. Music that’s pensive and thoughtful like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor are quite distracting. And my productivity would come to a standstill if I tried to play Simon and Garfunkel.

It’s all part of the workflow I’ve got that’s just unique to me. Everyone I know in the industry has a different way of doing things. But if you ever walk into my home office and see be going full-speed ahead, you may feel you’re not interrupting much by talking to me. But don’t do that—that’s one thing I can’t do. If you want me to listen to what you’re saying, I pretty much have to be away from the computer. I can do seven things at once, but not eight…apparently.

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