Taking a deep breath


I absolutely love my job. No questions asked. However, the working conditions at my office don’t necessarily lend themselves to a productive environment. All of us programmers are in one big room at groups of tables throughout the space. It’s a very open setup which is nice when you need to ask a quick question or want to collaborate. Unfortunately, it can be quite disturbing especially when you have coworkers that don’t necessarily know how to use their inside voice.

Programming is a very intense task. You need to keep at lot of information in memory (pun intended) and follow complex logical thought patterns. It’s even worse when you have to go down the rabbit hole and dive into the depth of the system to find some mysterious bug. You need to be able to get “into the zone” and totally focus on the task at hand. Distractions can be a real set-back to your productivity. That’s why you’ll find most of us with our headphones on, listening to music, in order to drown out the commotion all around and totally focus on our work.

I personally love music but not all kinds of music will work well when you’re trying to concentrate. Upbeat music might help you get motivated but it can also be distracting. In combination with my anxiety I’ve found that certain types of music can even make me feel jittery if it’s too intense, obviously keeping me from being able to focus.

I recently started using a website called calm.com in place of listening to music. Calm.com is a relaxation website that offers different tracks of tranquil music and natural sounds like rainfall and waves with each track being set to a calming video. It also provides a guided relaxation mode with instructions on posture, mindset, and breathing. I usually pick my favorite track and put it on repeat while I work but you can also use the timed mode to take a break for a few minutes. In addition, there is an iPhone app but I prefer the website because the app doesn’t offer a wide choice of tracks and only supports the timed and guided modes which I don’t usually use.

When I listen to calm.com I can tell a definite difference in my level of concentration. The music and sounds act almost as white noise that allow me to block out the craziness around me. Using this website, I feel much more relaxed, less tense, and can fully focus on my work. I still love listening to music when the task I’m working on is less daunting but calm.com has now become my favorite way to do work. Give it a try next time you feel stressed and just need a minute to take a deep breath!


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