Friday, May 9, 2014

Unchained Melody

Ned Hallowell has an article up at Additude Magazine titled "A Sound Strategy for Focus" that reviews a service called Focus@Will. Focus@Will is a music service, much like spotify or pandora in that you get to listen to tunes, but very different from either of those in that the tunes you listen to on either of those services are probably not these. Like Dr. Hallowell, I've known for years that music aids me in concentration - for me the key to the music is its familiarity, the more the playlist all sounds alike (and the longer I've been listening to an unaltered playlist, the better). I have been known to put certain songs on an endless loop (notably "Non Nobis, Domine" from Branagh's Henry V, until even my most patient father complained about the repetitiveness).

focus@will would like to help you drop into a focused state with some other, carefully selected, tunes. The science behind what they're doing looks intriguing, and the music isn't bad. Actually, I don't really know what most of the music sounds like because, although I've been playing it almost constantly for two days now, it doesn't really register. Which is kind of the point.

I haven't noticed any dramatic changes in my productivity yet, but that might be because to activate the music I have to open a web browser. And while I have that open (instead of the window with, you know, work in it) I might as well check facebook. And Order of the Stick might have updated since I was last here, I could take a look at that. Plus I need to check on my IRA, and since I've dropped a dress size since going on the Strattera and needed to replace my used-to-be-white t-shirts anyway, I should head over to the clothes website I got the old ones from and place an order.

The truth is, I spent most of the day playing 2048.

Still can't find flow. It might be because I haven't had any tasks in a while that have the high complexity / high skill combo that is required to get to a flow state, but I doubt it. This medication lowers the bar for switching gears considerably (which can be a good thing because it allows me more control over where my attention goes, but is a bad thing because my concentration is nowhere near as intense as it used to be) and it does that by keeping my brain stewing in norepenephrine, the chemical that gets released when our senses report a potential threat. I suspect it's going to be quite a while before I get that "drop out of awareness of environment/self and become fully immersed in a task" thing.

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