Work, Work, Work, Work, Work – But What Are You Listening To?

Nov 9, 2023 | Grant Writing

woman with headphones on

My friend Pat Duboise often says, “Music feeds my soul.”

I so understand that sentiment.

From the time memories first started to solidify in my mind, music was a constant. Riding in the car with my mom to the grocery store, ballet lessons, and a friend’s house always included the oldies station. I think I know every top 40 hit from the 60s thanks to her. “My Boyfriend’s Back” is a forever favorite, along with anything by Otis Redding.

My dad leaned heavily into southern rock, so I can sing along with the Eagles, Lynard Skynyrd, The Doobie Brothers, and even a little Drivin N Crying.

You will never convince me there was a better decade for rap/hip hop than the 90s – which covered the entirety of my high school and college years.

I come from the era of cassette tapes – always hoping to catch my favorite song on the radio so I could record and listen to my heart’s content. To this day my love language is a mixed tape, though currently it comes in the form of a Spotify playlist. (Everyone can download the app and listen for free, as long as you are willing to put up with ads.)

The Playlist for Grant Pros

In fact, I created a Fundraising HayDay playlist for my fellow grant pros, curated to feel your pain when frustrated by complicated grant forms. Take a LISTEN.

Years ago, a fellow grant pro (Diane Leonard) sparked a hot debate on LinkedIn with this one simple question: what do you listen to while writing grants? Answers ranged from silence to classical music, to whatever was currently on the radio.

Me, I love to listen to a range of genres, but it’s never classical. It will be anything from current favorites to 80s hits to yacht rock, depending on my mood. But it’s always music and artists I love – though the words and beats quickly fade to background noise.

I had a boss once who thought music had to be a distraction to my work (despite the volume and quality of work I was producing), all because he needed silence to work. He challenged me to give up music for two weeks and see if I noticed an improvement.

Day one wasn’t too bad. It was a novelty. Day two I noticed every ambient and background noise. I looked up anytime someone walked past my office. Day three I was probably humming constantly. By the end of the two weeks I was literally climbing the walls. Silence did not aid to my productivity – it was awful.

Personality May Drive Choice of Background Noise for Working Professionals

And now I have the science to understand why. In the article “Can Music Make You More Productive?” in the September 13, 2022, Harvard Business Review the author (Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic) explores the research of background music. The biggest takeaway is that the type of music (or lack thereof) is variable. What works for one person may not work for the next.

The number one thing listed is that “your personality determines whether and how much you benefit from background music while you work.” The article goes on to highlight that extroverts tend to have increased performance with music, while introverts are the exact opposite.

I know, not shocking at all.

Here’s my two cents: you do you. Rock out. Rock on. Or simply rock the silence. If it works for you, then work, work, work, work, work is a lot more fun.

Amanda Day
Fundraising HayDay

A podcast about grants & such.

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