If you’re like me, listening to music is more of a distraction when it comes to work that requires a lot of focus. This might be more of a contradiction to most as audibly secluding yourself from your environment keeps you more in your own ‘zone’, right? Well, not to me unfortunately… I have a knack for remembering quotes from tv shows and lyrics in a lot of (generally random) songs so listening to anything makes me tune into that rather than my work.
That being said, whenever I come up to a part of my job that is purely data entry based (i.e. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and repeat for hours), listening to something can keep your brain engaged, make the job seem to go a lot faster and make it drastically more enjoyable. Sometimes even educational!
I think the majority of people would turn to music first if given the choice of what to listen to, but (possibly controversially) I don’t have iTunes or Spotify… I ardently love music but I don’t think I listen to it enough to warrant Spotify and I’m too lazy for iTunes… if I want to listen to music I’ll find a radio station or put on Youtube and listen away – because that doesn’t make me sound older than I actually am… I may write about this in a different post sometime.
So anyway, one of the first things I started listening to when I needed to keep my brain engaged was podcasts! A friend recommended This American Life, which is a weekly podcast released by a guy called Ira Glass and the numerous talented members of his team. It tells stories from around the globe (with a focus on America) on current events and then just random things that range from the ‘that’s interesting’ to the ‘trying not to cry laughing in the office’ bizarre. Would highly recommend! Ira actually did a touring show called “3 acts, 2 dancers and 1 radio host” which I went to see in London and he didn’t disappoint!
I later discovered a very different type of podcast which is written by Aaron Mahnke: Lore. A very different style of podcast, it’s based around folklore and ghost stories from around the world which is pretty gripping, if slightly unnerving for the middle of the working day. Some of these stories are actually horrifying, like getting goose-bumps grim and – I’m not sure what it says about me but – it just draws you back in again and again.
So far, there’s only been one podcast that I haven’t fully enjoyed and that was Alice Isn’t Dead. Spoilers: It’s about a woman who’s friend/girlfriend (I can’t really remember) disappeared and she’s supposed to be dead or something so she becomes a trucker to travel the country and try to find her. The stuff that goes on over the series is just really weird and it couldn’t keep my attention so when she got attacked and started yelling I jumped out of my skin in the middle of the office and got really freaked out because I had no idea what was going on. I think there was also a bit where she cremated someone… I think I need to listen to this again… Anyway, the logo for this series was really clever but I remember thinking at the time that maybe the series would have been better as a book…
You Must Remember This by Karina Longworth is probably one of the podcasts I enjoyed the most. Telling stories about Hollywood’s first century, it describes some of the key people and stories of the time from Charles Manson’s cult to Marilyn Monroe. It gives such insight into the lives of people that have only been shown through the eyes of the paparazzi and can really change how you see an actor if you catch an old black and white film one day.
More recently, I needed a bit of a laugh so started listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno and oh my god… This guy is reading a porn novel his Dad wrote to two of his friends and they are absolutely destroying it! The story about a woman called Belinda getting a job at a company selling pots and pans I think(?) but the interview involves a “medical” and then there’s leather tiles… I can’t actually describe this accurately. You need to listen to this for yourself…