Music, Creativity & Productivity

Does listening to headphones while writing/working/reading reduce productivity?

Let’s find out. If you’re not already listening to music, here’s a song I think you might like:

Apache Relay — “Good as Gold” {mp3}

For me, it depends on what I’m doing. For most things I find that it helps reduce the distraction of ambient noise and conversations. But I go back and forth. Because as focus-boosting as listening to music can be, sometimes those overheard conversations can spark new ideas.

Now Gregory Ciotti has added some much-needed science to the mix. Basically, listening to music while writing can be bad:

Since listening to words activates the language center of your brain, trying to engage in other language related tasks (like writing) would be akin to trying to hold a conversation while another person talks over you… while also strumming a guitar.

But it’s good on the assembly line.

And new music and minor chords may hamper concentration, but:

[m]usic with a dissonant tone was found to have no impact to productivity, while music in the major mode had different results: “Subjects hearing BGM (background music) achieved greater productivity when BGM was in the major mode.”

Check out the entire article {fast company} to find out when you should listen to classical music, sample playlists and more.

p.s. Apache Relay via {all songs considered}.

How to get Unlimited Frequent Flier Miles

No, this blog has not been hacked by spammers.

As recently as July 1, 2011, an unknown number of travel hackers were ordering thousands of Presidential dollar coins from the U.S. Mint on their frequent flyer credit cards. When the coins arrived, with shipping paid for by the government, the clever travelers returned them to the bank, paid off their credit card, and took a free trip to Hawaii.

“We’ve used them to go on trips around the world,” says Jane Liaw, a 35-year-old public health researcher and science writer in San Francisco. Liaw says she and her husband, who use a variety of tricks for earning miles, are planning trips to Greece and Turkey, “all on miles and points.”

As Planet Money reports, it all started with a failed effort to get Americans to use dollar coins:

In 2005, Congress decided that a new series of dollar coins should be minted to engage the public. These coins would bear the likeness of every former president, starting with George Washington. There would be a new one every quarter. So, far, the Mint has produced coins through the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant.

The Presidential coins will cost the U.S. Government 16 million dollars by the time it ends in 2016. There are already 1 billion dollar coins locked up in government vaults.

The dollar coin loophole has since been closed; the coins can still be ordered from the Mint website, but the only acceptable form of payment is a debit card or wire transfer.